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Tourist Information - Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace, home of the 11th Duke of Marlborough and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, is an English Baroque masterpiece and a World Heritage Site, with fine furniture, sculpture, paintings and tapestries set in magnificent gilded state rooms overlooking sweeping lawns and formal gardens.

Blenheim Palace was built for the National Hero John 1st Duke of Marlborough and
Blenheim Palace

his Duchess Sarah, given by Queen Anne as a gift in reward for his military services. The palace was built between 1705 and 1722. The architect chosen to complete this task was Sir John Vanbrugh and his clerk of works Hawksmoor, who had already proved their ability with the masterly designs for Greenwich Hospital and Castle Howard. Set in glorious parkland, Blenheim can be exciting to look at in all seasons and is the supreme example of English Baroque architecture.
Blenheim Palace Gardens


The Great Hall is chiefly remarkable for its proportions 67 feet or 20 metres high. The stone enrichments were carved by Grinling Gibbons and portray the arms of Queen Anne. The hall ceiling, painted in 1716 by Sir James Thornhill, shows Marlborough victorious, with the battle order at Blenheim spread for view.

West of the Great Hall lies the birth room

Blenheim Palace

of Sir Winston Churchill, grandson of the 8th Duke. You will enjoy the variety of interesting exhibits, from Churchill's lively letters to curls cut from his head when he was five years old.

The Green Drawing Room and the two rooms beyond it all have their original ceilings, which were designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, Vanbrugh's collaborator. Many fine family portraits painted by Keller, Romney, Reynolds, Sargent and Vandyck line the sumptuous damask covered walls. In the Green Writing Room hangs the most famous of all the tapestries, showing Marlborough as he accepts Marshall Tallard's surrender at the battle of Blenheim.

In the Saloon, used as the state dining room, the magnificent frescoes and ceiling were painted by Louis Laguerre, who included a caricature of himself above his signature, neighboured by Dean Jones, Marlborough's chaplain. The table decorated with silver gilt, is laid with a Minton service, just part of the collection of rare porcelain on view throughout the Palace,

Three apartments known as the First, Second and Third State Rooms intercommunicate between the Saloon and the Long Library. The walls of all three rooms are hung with tapestries of Marlborough's campaigns, commissioned by himself of the designer de Hondt and the Brussels weaver, Judocus de Vos. The realistic fidelity in every detail and the artistic beauty of these tapestries commands admiration. Outstanding bronzes by Coysevox, Paul de Lamerie and Fuchs adorn the elegant furniture of the State Rooms.

In the Long Library the extraordinarily fine stucco decoration of the ceiling, including the two false domes, is by Isaac Mansfield. Designed originally by Vanbrugh as a picture gallery, this room now is home to the library, largely collected by the 9th Duke. The Willis organ at the north end was installed by the 8th Duke in 1891. Coronation robes, liveries, uniforms and the coronets of the present Duke and Duchess are displayed in the central bay, together with a cap worn by Queen Anne.

Much of The Chapel was designed by Sarah the 1st Duchess to do honour and justice to the Duke of Marlborough. The tomb was designed by William Kent and the memorial is to the first Duke and Duchess and their two sons.

The Palace is set in 2,100 acres of parkland, landscaped by 'Capability' Brown, and offering walks with beautiful views over the lake and through the trees. Beautiful formal gardens include the Secret Garden, Italian Garden and Rose Gardens which is in bloom from June till August. The Park and Gardens at Blenheim provide a majestic formal setting for the Palace.

The original plans by Vanbrugh and the 1st Duke were altered by Capability Brown, and later by the French landscape-architect Achille Duchene and succeeding generations of the family have taken a keen interest in their evolvement. Today you can admire the formality of the Italian Garden and the Water Terraces, take a relaxing stroll through The Arboretum where Mr. Winston Churchill proposed to Miss Clementine Hozier, who was to become Baroness Churchill. Rare trees and shrubs abound and in spring the garden is particularly attractive, when the blossom is out and the grassy banks are covered in daffodils and bluebells. In summer the rose garden is a delight arched with hoops of delicate pink roses. The Grand Cascade, designed by Capability Brown may not be the highest falls in England, but few can be more picturesque. Fun for all ages is to be found on the putting greens, as well as with the giant chess and draughts.

Enjoy a visit to The Butterfly House where you can see exotic butterflies in free flight. The Marlborough maze is the world's largest symbolic hedge maze, designed to reflect the history and architecture of the palace. Covering just over an acre, there are two high bridges, which provide perfect vantage points. To make your day complete enjoy a relaxing visit to one of the restaurants or cafeterias and browse in the garden shop.

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