Blenheim Palace is one of England’s largest houses and was built between 1705 and 1722. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Both the palace itself and the extensive grounds are worth seeing.
The birth place of Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace’s history goes back almost two centuries before his birth. It was built as a gift to the 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, the military commander who led the Allied forces in the Battle of Blenheim on 13th August 1704.
The tour of the Palace State Rooms includes some history and artifacts related to Winston Churchill. You also view many of the original furnishings of the Palace including tapestries and family portraits. There is also a tour of the Duke of Marlborough’s Private Apartments.
One can stroll the paths along the lake and through the gardens and imagine what it would be like for those who had the pleasure of actually living there. Churchill himself was reported to have caught his first fish in the lake. The current Duke of Marlborough and his family are still in residence there. The present incumbent of the title is Charles James Spencer-Churchill, 12th Duke of Marlborough. Charles James succeeded the Dukedom upon his father’s death on 16 October 2014.
As of today, June 15th, 2015, the palace, park, and gardens are open to the public with an entry fee of Adult £22.50, Child £12.30 or Family £59.00. If you are going to be in the area again within the year it is good to note that the ticket can be converted to a Free Annual Pass. We did this as we are house sitting in the area for a month. We have already visited the palace twice, once on a glorious sunny day and once on a misty rainy day and we enjoyed both! Also note that there is a lower fee if you are interested in exploring the gardens only.
You can bring your canine friends if you don’t plan on going inside the palace. It is also a popular spot to picnic. Though, there are several nice places to get food, including a champagne bar, and the India room where you can have Afternoon Tea. We didn’t try the India room as they were booked up for the day (it was our first visit and it happened to be a busy weekend day). We did however have a fantastic burger accompanied with champagne outside at the tables by the fountains. It was very nice.
Also, worth a look is the Pleasure Park area which is linked to Blenheim Palace via a miniature railway. There is a small fee to ride the train, though the area is walkable as well. The Pleasure Park includes a fabulous maze that our ten year old (all of us really) loved! It takes about 25 minutes to complete (longer for us since our son didn’t want to leave!) and there are some stairs involved.
There is also an adventure playground, gift shop, butterfly house, fishing, and a cafeteria. As it was a rather rainy day when we were there, we skipped the playground, though there were some folks playing with the giant chess game.
We did go into the butterfly house which was very nice and had a surprisingly great meal at the little cafeteria! We ordered pizza, expecting it to be your typical cafeteria style pizza. Boy were we wrong! We are very picky when it comes to pizza, and this was really good! My mother in law tried the soup of the day and said it was also very good. For dessert, they sell little personal size ice cream containers. My son got the chocolate truffle and it was so good I got one of my own!