The Bloke and I decided to spontaneously go out on a day trip the other day – we’ve both been feeling a little low and have cabin fever from being in the house for an extended period of time, so we both took the day off and went to Blenheim Palace. As you do. It is something that has been on my UK bucket list for a while, the weather was fairly reasonable and surprisingly, it’s only a 90 minute drive away from Birmingham.
Most famously known as being the birthplace of Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace is the principal residence of the Duke of Marlborough and the only non-royal country house in England that holds the title of ‘palace.’ Built between 1705 and 1722, it was a gift to John Churchill – the 1st Duke of Marlborough – by Queen Anne in thanks for his victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
There are two types of tickets that are available for purchase – the Palace, Park and Gardens, or just the Park and Gardens. Initially, it seemed a rather expensive day out (a standard Adult ticket in 2019 is £27.00), but if you make a ‘donation’ of your ticket costs to the palace charity, these are converted into an Unlimited Annual Pass which means that you can visit as many times as you like in a year – free of charge – which is amazing. The Bloke and I also have Annual English Heritage passes, which gave us 30% off our admission.
Opening Times – Main Season
Park – 9.00am – 6.00pm
Formal Gardens – 10.00am – 6.00pm (or dusk if earlier)
Palace – 10.30am – 5.30pm (last admission 4.45pm)
Despite being lucky enough to visit many of the stately homes, castles and palaces that the UK has to offer, there is very little that can prepare you for the grandeur and magnificence of Blenheim Palace, especially when walking into the Great Court. It’s incredible, and even though we were there on a cloudy day it was absolutely breathtaking. Constructed in an English Baroque style, the Great Court is designed to overwhelm the visitor arriving at the palace, and it did just that (aside from the minor scaffolding on one small part of the building).
There are lots of thing to see and do when visiting Blenheim Palace and the surrounding grounds, but here are a list of highlights and ideas that may be useful when planning for your visit.
The Palace State Rooms
Along the southern side are a row of intricate and beautifully decorated gilded state rooms, all aligned to allow easy access from one room to the next. These were primarily designed to impress distinguished (and usually high ranking) visitors, and are decorated with priceless tapestries, paintings and furniture. To get a full view, click on each image…
The Formal Gardens
The Formal Gardens surround the Palace, including the Water Terraces, the Duke’s Private Italian Garden, the Secret Garden, the new Churchill Memorial Garden and the Rose Garden. We spent a lot of time in the Water Terraces, which were absolutely stunning, particularly with the view overlooking the Great Lake. The image below was taken by Duncan Walker – check out his Instagram here
Click on the images below for the full size for further views of the Water Terrace and the Duke’s Italian Gardens
Most of the gardens and land are available to the general public. However, the Italian Gardens are private – available for outside viewing only.
The Churchill Exhibition and Churchill Memorial Garden
The newly renovated and now permanent Churchill exhibition can be found on the south side of the Palace and includes artefacts and an insight into the life of Sir Winston Churchill, including the room that he was born in. The son of Lord Randolph Churchill and Jennie Jerome, Churchill was born on 30th November 1874. The Memorial Garden and the opportunity to ‘Walk in Churchill’s Footsteps’ with their new trail, along with the ‘Temple of Diana’ can be found next to the beautiful Water Terraces, including the spot where he proposed to Clementine Hozier.
The Pleasure Gardens
The Pleasure Gardens hosts an adventure playground, giant hedge maze and a butterfly house. A miniature train runs every 30 minutes between 11.00am and 5.00pm during the main season, transporting passengers from the main house. It is 50p per single journey, with under-fives free.
The Untold Story
The interactive Untold Story are a series of animated rooms that tell the story of the history of Blenheim through clever use of video and projections. Taking approximately 30 minutes, it isn’t suitable for wheelchair and buggy users but an alternative experience is available in The Untold Story Cinema.
The Long Library
Along the entire length of the west side of the house is the library and gallery, with the Long Library organ at the end. This famous instrument is regularly maintained and is played throughout the year by visiting organists, but its condition is declining.
Blenheim Wishing Well
All donations in the well are divided between various charities.
The Harry Potter Tree
The ‘Harry Potter Tree,’ was used in a scene in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and after the collapse of the famous Yew tree on the Ashford Estate that was famed as the ‘Whomping Willow,’ this is the only remaining Harry Potter tree available to still see. Due to it’s age and size, a team of specialist tree surgeons have attached cables to support some of the larger branches. Over the course of their lifetime trees like this one sheds branches and as a result the resulting ‘wound’ left behind needs time to heal. If it doesn’t not heal successfully, disease and rot can get into the trunk and the centre dies, causing the wound to become hollow. Despite this, the tree is still very much alive on the outside.
With 2000 acres of beautiful landscapes parkland, lakes and monuments, the Park was primarily designed by Capability Brown. For more information, click here.
Want to take advantage of the additional experiences on offer?
Private apartment tours are available from February – September and are priced at £5.00 per adult and £4.50 per concession or child. Available tours are:
The Duke’s Floor – a tour of the Duke’s private living quarters
The Upstairs Bedrooms – the Palace State Bedrooms
The Downstairs Servants Floor – the areas used by household staff both past and present
Buggy Tours (£4.00 per adult and £3.00 per concession or child) – a scenic trip around Queen Pool with a narrative about the Park’s history and monuments, or through the Formal Gardens.
Further Hints and Tips
The two main features in the palace – the State Room and the Untold Story – are on opposite sides, so once you have completed one section you will need to go back in through the main entrance again.
Audio Guides are free with a Palace, Park and Gardens ticket. Additional guides cost £2.50 and can be purchased from the Palace entrance.
Have a question? Every single member of staff was incredibly helpful, friendly and had a wealth of knowledge about Blenheim Palace and it’s history.
Photography is allowed throughout, but without the use of a flash.
On a budget? Blenheim Palace has numerous cafe’s available but they are a little pricey – take a some sandwiches with you!
Blenheim Palace is situated next to the gorgeous little town of Woodstock – definitely somewhere worth checking out!
For more information, you can visit the Blenheim Palace website here:
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Copyright: All images were taken by myself and Duncan Walker and are not available for public use without permission.
We went for a school trip… Was a long time ago, but beautiful ❤️
It was the first time I had visited and it was stunning!
Truly. It was a long time agobut I can still remember the awe!
It’s definitely one of the most impressive things I have visited in the UK!
Thanks for sharing. If I ever visit the UK, I want to see this palace. The only palace or castle I’ve visited is in California and it is Hearst’s Castle. The United States doesn’t have official royalty we can call kings, princes, dukes, or earls, but we do have unofficial royalty: billionaires and multi-millionaires that think they are powerful royalty and many of them act like they have enough power to rule over cities and state like they are royalty. That’s why the United States should never elect someone worth hundreds-of-millions or billions of dollars to any politically elected position… but I digress.
William Randolf Hearst was one of this elite, and he built his own castle on a hilltop in sight of the Pacific Ocean and it was surrounded by thousands of acres stocked with giraffes, zebras, and other wild animals from around the world. He also had a caged zoo near this hill-top castle where he kept the carnivorous animals locked up: lions, leopards, tigers, et al. When Hearst died, he left his castle and some of its acreage to California and it has been a state park ever since.
“Hearst Castle’s history begins in 1865, when George Hearst purchased 40,000 acres of ranchland. After his mother’s death in 1919, William Randolph Hearst inherited thousands of acres around San Simeon, and over time, he purchased more. The spread eventually encompassed about 250,000 acres. With architect Julia Morgan, Hearst conceived a retreat he called La Cuesta Encantada—Spanish for “Enchanted Hill.” By 1947, when Hearst had to leave the remote location because of his fragile health, the estate was still unfinished even though it comprised 165 rooms and 123 acres of gardens, terraces, pools, and walkways—all built to Hearst’s specifications and showcasing a legendary art collection.”
I first visited this unofficial royal estate when I was a child and have been back a couple of times on my own.
Yeah I’ve seen pictures of it quite a few times and it looks amazing… oh to have that amount of money to build such a thing!
Oh I do miss the scenic beauty of places like Blenheim Palace. Captured wonderfully by you both.
We do have the 2nd oldest NZ house (a missionary house The Elms) in Tauranga which was build in the late 1800’s and still in its original form except for the roof.
I love things like that! We’re so lucky here to have so much history and architecture…
how wonderful! I would love to see that. Sounds like an incredible time. It also reminds me of the Biltmore house which is an hour from us, https://www.biltmore.com/ Thanks for sharing your experience with all of us. Our daughter’s dogs are Winston and Clementine… she loves it when people realize who they are named after… Thanks again! ❤
Oh wow that looks absolutely stunning! Love the dogs names too!
They are mutts, but we love them! Come visit Biltmore sometime, would love to show you around the southern part of the states!
That would be lovely!
One of the most impressive residences I’ve ever toured. What a great way to cure cabin fever 🙂
It’s incredible isn’t it! Even the gates were impressive!
Great photos Suzie. Blenheim is a wonderful place to visit, classic day out. Always worth a visit and well worth the entry fee every time.
Thanks! It’s great that you only have to pay once and then get a year’s free admission too!
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It is rather an expensive ticket price, but looks like great value for money. The gardens would be my first stop.
The gardens are gorgeous – we only saw a small part of them and could have easily spent several days there in the grounds alone!
Thanks for the memories, Suzie! I visited Blenheim many years ago with I was a post-doc attending a meeting in England. I do love Winnie.
It’s stunning isn’t it! How amazing that you attended meetings in England too!
I loved visiting Blenheim Palace via your post Suzie, thanks so much for this information and your great photos. I think it’s always a great suggestion having an audio guide. Thoroughly enjoyed this.
Did you visit when you were last over here Deb or had you visited before?
No I haven’t been but it looks amazing! I just love the fact that we both went to Blenheim in the same week, but very different places 🙂
Oh of course sorry! Brain fart!
Wow, love the frescos (?) on the walls and ceilings – stunning!
It’s beautiful – some of them need to be cleaned and brightened up a little but I think it would cost an absolute fortune!
Restoration work costs loads, but great to do for future generations.
Looks beautiful! I haven’t visited as an adult but it became a running family joke when I was younger as we were going there for a day trip, Pa Lee got extremely lost and we didn’t make it that day. This happened again on at least another three occasions 🙄 I began to doubt that Blenheim Palace even existed 😂
Hahahaha! If it helps we almost got lost a few times too!
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Wow, love the photos and great article – I’ve never been.
It’s definitely worth seeing!