No matter how many times you’ve been on the tourist trails in England and have rejoiced in the deep satisfaction that comes from having seen almost everything that’s on your ‘list’, you haven’t seen it all until you’ve been to Blenheim Palace!
Tucked away in the tiny market town of Woodstock in northwest Oxfordshire, Blenheim Palace is where a defining chapter of England’s history meets English-Baroque architecture meets magical landscapes! The main residence of the dukes of Marlborough not only offers “the finest view in England” (according to their official website and I cannot agree more), it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the only non-royal country house in England to enjoy the title of a ‘Palace.’
Intrigued? Read on…
Built between 1705 and 1722 to commemorate the 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill’s victory over the French and Bavarians during the War of the Spanish Succession (Battle of Blenheim), this impressive specimen of English-Baroque architecture not only gives visitors a rare opportunity to explore its opulent State Rooms but to also marvel at its nearly 2000 acres of stunning outdoors including the Great Lake and its Grand Cascade, the beautifully landscaped gardens, a range of wildlife and the greatest collection of ancient oak trees in Europe.
Although 3 separate ticket options are available, the all-inclusive option that costs £24.90 is a real bargain because it not only gives you access to all the areas of Blenheim Palace that are open to public, including the Palace State Rooms, The Churchill Exhibition, The Untold Story (an interactive and animated exhibition of the past-the least interesting part of the visit in my opinion) the Park and the Gardens, you can also convert this one time ticket into a Free Annual Pass either at the Palace or online by providing a passport size photo along with some of the information printed on the receipt/ticket. I did it online and got my Annual Pass within a week! For more information, you can visit their official website http://www.blenheimpalace.com.
For anyone driving to Blenheim Palace, there’s plenty of parking available (strangely, there’s no information on their official website about it) and although a little pricey, the four cafeterias/restaurants within the premise serve plenty of snacks and drinks (also for vegans and vegetarians) so you won’t starve either.
So whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, one of those deviant travellers who insist on taking the road less travelled to avoid the herd, or simply someone looking to catch some fresh air, Blenheim Palace needs to be on your list!
P.S. If you’re a compulsive weather-watcher (like me), pick a sunny day for this trip and you’ll be doing the greatest favour to your inner photographer!
Here’s what I managed to capture at Blenheim Palace over the Easter weekend but with my Annual Pass, I can’t wait to return in Summer when the skies are bluer, the trees are greener, the birds are chirpier and the Rose Garden is, well, there ;-)
Afterall, “If Spring comes, shall Summer be far behind?” (with sincere apologies to P.B. Shelly)