Blenheim Palace : English Tourist Destination

Blenheim Palace : English Tourist Destination

Blenheim Palace is one of the world’s leading tourist destinations because it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site among other tourist attraction factors. Tourists from all over the world flock to this tourist destination due to its long and diverse history. This wonder place boasts of being the home to the 12th Duke of Marlborough and his family. It also has another merit in being Sir Winston Churchill’s birthplace.

Visitors also tend to make Blenheim Palace their tourist destination because of the overwhelming experience of a Unique Landscaped Parkland, Baroque Architecture, and Stunning Formal Gardens. Once at the Palace, tourists have a vantage to explore 2000 acres of Capability Brown Parkland and over 90 acres of Formal Gardens that have won various awards.

Tourists are privileged to ride the miniature train to The Pleasure Gardens, a devoted area of the family that offers a giant hedge maze, an adventure playground, and a butterfly house. Blenheim Palace is so rich in beauty that tourists visit this destination throughout the year.

The Palace

Tourists get a chance to enter the Palace and explore gilded staterooms, golden staterooms in addition to high valued collections that are set against stunning stonework. They also get the privilege to experience the beauty and magnificence of the Grade I listed building. To access the Gardens, Park, and Palace that are open to the public, tourists have to usually make prior admission arrangements following which they are allowed to access:

An indoor cinema
The exhibition of Sir Winston Churchill
A tour of the Palace State Rooms
The Untold Story is typically an interactive and animated visitor experience revealing the history of the Palace.
Events that are occurring on the day a tourist visits that have accessibility with standard admission
Furthermore, tourists who desire to get more experience of the Palace to have access to a Private Apartments tour at an extra small charge, where they can tour staff areas downstairs, guest bedrooms upstairs and Duke’s Floor.

The Park

Bleinheim Palace, a charming British stately home, is usually located on more than 2000 acres of gardens, which are extraordinarily landscaped. The park is currently host to numerous sites of special scientific interests, including ancient oaks in the High Park and the Great Lake. Tourists have the privilege of taking a number of the recommended Park walks, exploring the beautiful landscape, and seeing various wildlife.

The Walled Gardens

Tourists can take a ride to the Walled Gardens, where they get captivated as they behold Marlborough Maze, the giant hedge maze throughout Europe. Also, tourists get a chance to adventure the Butterfly House, among many other adventurous events.

The Formal Gardens

These gardens were created many centuries ago by Achille Duchene and Henry Wise, among others. They are designed in a manner that reflects the various styles that have been used through different ages. Formal Gardens within the Palaces include Hidden Treasuries, Beautiful Delicate Rose Garden, and the Secret Garden. Visitors have an allowance of one hour during which they can explore the gardens for free.

Restaurants and Cafes

There are many restaurants someone can eat from at Blenheim Palace, including Orangery Restaurant, Oxfordshire Pantry, and Water Terrace Coffee Café.

Opening Times

Blenheim Palace is open throughout the year, except for Christmas Day. It is worth noting that there are events separate from the Gardens, Palace and the Park and may attract other charges.

Need to make a tour visit or learn more about Bleinheim Palace? You can learn more on involved details by following this link www.blenheimpalace.com.

There are portraits of the Dukes and Duchesses throughout the ages in many rooms all through the Palace. There are also portraits of the famous men and women who knew them and helped them. Have a look around the plan of the Palace.

Reference information on the history regarding Blenheim Palace:

The Timeline: The Royal Park where Blenheim now stands was mentioned in the Domesday Book. A great deal of history has rolled by as kings and queens visited or hunted here and we are in the process of building a timeline to show you who was on the throne at the time and what was happening in Europe. We’re up to the Georgians now but we will be building the timeline over the next month, and you may like to visit it to see work in progress.

Henrietta, 2nd Duchess of Marlborough: During the war, the 1st Duke of Marlborough lost his beloved son and heir to smallpox. His wife was beside herself with grief. After Marlborough’s son had died, an Act of Parliament established that in the event of a lack of a male heir the title would go through the female line. Marlborough’s eldest daughter Henrietta therefore inherited the title on her father’s death. Henrietta died without a male heir so the title went to the family of her sister Anne. By the time Henrietta died Anne was also dead so the title went to Anne’s eldest remaining son Charles Spencer, who became the 3rd Duke in 1733. This meant that the Churchill name was now lost. It was brought back to the family by the 5th Duke who, by royal licence, was allowed to add Churchill to his name Spencer. Since then the family has been Spencer-Churchill. Charles Spencer had a younger brother John who remained at Althorp. From him the Earls of Spencer descend, and Lady Diana Spencer, the Princess of Wales, was therefore a direct descendent of the 1st Duke of Marlborough.

Jack Churchill: This is Winston Churchill’s younger brother, Jack. They were very close to one another, Winston kept a fatherly eye on him. Like Winston, Jack was a brave soldier. He was wounded when fighting in South Africa, and also served in the First World War. He was married to Gwendeline and their daughter married a man called Anthony Eden who was a very important politician during the Second World War. Here is a photograph of all four Churchills together. You should be able to see Jack, his brother Winston, the 9th Duke and a distant cousin, Viscount Churchill.

The History of the Dukes of Marlborough: Blenheim Place was built as a gift from the nation to the 1st Duke of Marlborough. He successfully led the forces of a European Alliance against the French in the War of Spanish Succession. At Blindheim on 13th August 1704 he achieved a great victory. This victory as Winston Churchill wrote in his history of the 1st Duke, changed the political axis of power in the world. Marlborough had prevented the complete dominance of Europe by France. It was for this that Queen Anne and a grateful nation built him his great house. This was a family home and in particular a monument to his achievement and to the Stuart dynasty.

Albert Spencer-Churchill, 10th Duke of Marlborough: During the Second World War the 10th Duke first welcomed Malvern College for boys as evacuees to the Palace. After the school was moved to another location, MI5 moved in. The Duke returned to the army as Lieutenant-Colonel and worked as a liaison officer in the British Army with the American armed forces in Britain. The Duchess became head of the Red Cross and worked very hard for them. Later the 10th Duke installed the fountains in the water terrace. This has recently been restored. His main influence at Blenheim was to make the decision to open the Palace to tourists in Easter 1950.

Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough: When the 9th Duke inherited the estate in 1892. His dedication to the Palace could have been thwarted by the lack of funds. He solved this problem by marrying Consuelo, who was a member of one of America’s richest families, the Vanderbilts. With her dowry he completely redecorated the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd State Rooms, and re-equipped the Long Library. Outside we owe to him the magnificent formal gardens – the Water Terraces to the west and the Italian Garden to the east. He restored the Great Court to its pre-Capability Brown original state (i.e. as it stands today) and restored the Grand Avenue of elms (in all he planted half a million trees). His wife, Consuelo did much to help the poor of Woodstock and Bladon. She continued the tradition of taking food from the Palace to those in need. She visited the almshouses and the houses of the elderly and sick. Consuelo regularly went to the school at Bladon to listen to the children read, to help them with their needlework and cooking. During the First World War the Duke turned over a lot of the Park to sheep farming and developed the arable farming in an attempt to produce more food and to encourage others to follow his example. The Palace also became a military hospital for the wounded. The Duke and Duchess had two sons. Consuelo although an unwilling Duchess, played her part in being a welcoming hostess to royalty and to the aristocracy of Britain. One of her closest friends was Winston Churchill. She admired and identified with Churchill’s vitality and ambition. He was a regular visitor to Blenheim, although Consuelo had to be careful to keep him away from their friends the Astors. Winston did not get on with Nancy Astor (first female MP). On one occasion when she was visiting Blenheim, Churchill arrived unexpectedly. Consuelo records that soon the inevitable argument happened. Nancy commented that if she were married to Winston she would put poison in his drink. Winston replied that if he were her husband he would drink it.

George Spencer-Churchill, 8th Duke of Marlborough: The 8th Duke continued to face the problem of lack of funds. He made use of his father breaking the entail to dispose of over 200 old master paintings. It must be said however that the funds were used very sensibly for Palace maintenance and improvements to the estate. He is sometimes known as the ‘Practical Duke’ being very much a scientist. He constructed his own laboratory where his startling experiments sometimes caused the more impressionable staff to view him as a magician. He introduced gas, electricity, central heating and a telephone system of his own design. The 8th Duke’s brother was Randolph. Randolph married Jennie Jerome and had two sons, one of whom was Winston Churchill. Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim and proposed to his wife Clementine at the Palace. Winston said “At Blenheim I made two decisions – to be born and to marry. I am happily content with both”.

John Spencer-Churchill, 7th Duke of Marlborough: The 7th Duke brought stability to the Palace. He was an upright Victorian gentleman. He and his wife Frances (daughter of the Marquis of Londonderry) had 11 children. His Duchess continued with the tradition of helping others and had the school built at Bladon. At Blenheim she revived the Palace as a centre for high society to meet. Blenheim once again resounded to the sound of weekend parties and high society balls. When the Duke went to Ireland as Viceroy, the Duchess worked tirelessly to raise money to alleviate the effects of the second Irish potato famine. She was admired the length and breadth of Ireland. Working as Viceroy in Ireland ruined the Duke’s finances and on returning to Blenheim he had to sell the books from the Long Library. This began the process which enabled the 8th Duke to dispose of other major parts of the Blenheim collection.

George Spencer, 4th Duke of Marlborough: The 4th Duke was quite a remarkable man. He was the first Duke to live totally at Blenheim. He inherited the title and estate at the age of 19 in 1758 and was Duke until 1817. He therefore had the time to make a difference at Blenheim. He was a man of taste, vigour and money. As well as bringing in William Chambers to make important changes both inside and outside he employed Capability Brown who made major changes to the landscape and gardens. He created the views seen today and was responsible for the Lake, the Cascades, the Great Court and the South Front. The Duke was also interested in the latest transport developments sweeping Britain. He had an additional Cut dug from the Oxford Canal to the River Isis (Thames) to connect with his salt works. This considerably shortened the time taken by the usual route. His wife, Caroline, was a leading light in society but she was also aware of her duty to help the poor. She had the almshouses built at Woodstock. Clive of India gave the Duke a tigeress. The tigeress lived in the Palace grounds in a specially built cage and there were regular orders made to the local butcher’s shop for meat. The records show that the tigeress cost the same as three servants to feed.

George Spencer-Churchill, 5th Duke of Marlborough: During the time of the 5th Duke, Blenheim’s fortunes were at a very low point. He spent vast sums of money on the gardens buying rare plants and flowers, particularly orchids. He created a whole range of specialist gardens, alas now all gone except for the Rose Garden which was restored by the present Duke. He is sometimes known as the ‘Profligate Duke’. He did install the Indian Room which today serves as part of the Palace restaurant. Susan, the wife of the 5th Duke was very artistic and was especially good at water colours of wild flowers.

George Spencer-Churchill, 6th Duke of Marlborough: During the time of the 6th Duke, Blenheim’s fortunes were at a very low point. He made modifications to improve the farming on the estate. Although being duke for 17 years the 6th Duke remains a distant figure. This was because he ordered his documents to be destroyed after his death. We therefore know little about him.

Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough: The third Duke lived at Blenheim from time to time but preferred to live at his house in Langley, Buckinghamshire. He had a daughter called Lady Diana Spencer who was engaged to the Prince of Wales, although the marriage never took place. Also like the recent Lady Diana Spencer who married the Prince Charles, the 3rd Duke’s daughter died young. He led the British expeditionary force on Continental Europe in the early part of the Seven Years’ War, but died in 1758 , the only one of the Dukes of Marlborough to die on campaign.

Henrietta, 2nd Duchess of Marlborough:
During the war, the 1st Duke of Marlborough lost his beloved son and heir to smallpox. His wife was beside herself with grief. After Marlborough’s son had died, an Act of Parliament established that in the event of a lack of a male heir the title would go through the female line. Marlborough’s eldest daughter Henrietta therefore inherited the title on her father’s death. Henrietta died without a male heir so the title went to the family of her sister Anne. By the time Henrietta died Anne was also dead so the title went to Anne’s eldest remaining son Charles Spencer, who became the 3rd Duke in 1733. This meant that the Churchill name was now lost. It was brought back to the family by the 5th Duke who, by royal licence, was allowed to add Churchill to his name Spencer. Since then the family has been Spencer-Churchill. Charles Spencer had a younger brother John who remained at Althorp. From him the Earls of Spencer descend, and Lady Diana Spencer, the Princess of Wales, was therefore a direct descendent of the 1st Duke of Marlborough.

John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough: John Churchill was born on 26th May 1650 to Winston Churchill (later Sir Winston Churchill) and his wife Elizabeth. Sir Winston had been fined heavily by Oliver Cromwell at the end of the Civil War (he coined the family motto Fiel Pero Desdichado, Faithful but Unfortunate, which is still used by the family to this day). The family’s fortunes took a turn for the better when Charles II was restored to the throne and in 1665, Winston Churchill’s eldest daughter, Arabella, became Maid of Honour to Anne Hyde, the Duchess of York, joined some months later by her brother John, as page to her husband, James. This was the start of his brilliant military career which culminated during the reign of Queen Anne when he won the Battle of Blenheim during the War of Spanish Succession.

John Spencer-Churchill, 11th Duke of Marlborough: The 11th Duke has devoted his life to the preservation of the Palace. He has had a difficult task of balancing the needs of the modern day visitor with the necessity of maintaining a World Heritage site. He said that ‘Although the Battle of Blenheim was won in 1704 the Battle for Blenheim continues in the unceasing struggle to maintain the structure of the building and to obtain the finance for the future.’ He has introduced the Pleasure Gardens, Butterfly House, the Railway, the Maze, the adventure playground and the Churchill Exhibition in the Palace. The 11th Duke restored his father’s private gardens in 2004 as part of the tercentenary celebrations of the Battle of Blenheim. These gardens are very popular with the visitors. The Churchill Destiny Exhibition in the stables was created in 2005 as part of the celebrations of the 40th anniversary of Churchill’s death. The Park has hosted music concerts, craft fairs, major sporting and charity events during the Duke’s lifetime. In 2006 the Duke had his 80th Birthday. He invited the people of Oxfordshire who were also 80 in the same year to come to a tea party. Five hundred guests attended and the weather was kind enough to let the event take place on the lawns outside.

Queen Anne and the War of Spanish Succession: In February 1702 William of Orange died and was succeeded by his sister-in-law, Anne. John Churchill’s fortunes revived. His wife Sarah was a close friend to Queen Anne, to the extent that they had nicknames for one another – the Queen called herself Mrs Morley and Sarah and John were known as Mr and Mrs Freeman. Churchill was given the Order of the Garter and made Master of the Ordnance. On the 14th of December 1702 he became the 1st Duke of Marlborough and the Marquis of Blandford. It was shortly after this that Marlborough left for Europe to lead the long campaign against the French. The war in which he directed affairs became known as the War of Spanish Succession.

The King of Spain, Charles II, had no direct heir. The nearest possible heir was the Dauphin of France. For France to gain control of Spain and all its territories was unthinkable in Europe at that time. European diplomacy worked to prevent this. Eventually the French King, Louis XIV agreed that France would not claim the Spanish crown in return for compensation. The aged Spanish King disagreed with this decision and before dying he made a will leaving the Spanish Empire to the grandson of Louis XIV. Louis knew there would be trouble if he allowed this to go ahead but he still sent his grandson south to be crowned Philip V of Spain. This action led to the formation of a Grand Alliance between England, Holland and the Holy Roman Empire. Marlborough was Generalissimo of this Alliance. He fought many battles and had many great successes. Marlborough was a great soldier and diplomat. He had earned the reward of the Great House that was to become Blenheim Palace. Winston Churchill wrote in his book Marlborough His Life and Times that he preserved a complete silence, offering neither explanations nor excuses for any of his deeds or achievements. His answer was to be this Great House.

William and Mary: James II caused a crisis when his wife, who was a Catholic, produced a healthy son which would mean a Catholic succession. Powerful Protestants at Court wrote to William of Orange to encourage him to intervene and take the Crown. William landed in England with an army in November 1688. Churchill, who was James’s Lieutenant-General (leader of James’s army) and other powerful men from Court left the King’s camp and went over to William. William ruled jointly with his wife Mary. Churchill was at the centre of political circles but never quite gained the favour and rewards from the King for which he hoped. He was given the title of Earl of Marlborough in 1689 but this was not enough. He had wanted to be made Master of the Ordnance, Captain General of the Armed forces (i.e. Commander in Chief) and he particularly wished for the Order of the Garter. These were not granted to him because William did not trust Marlborough. When William faced rebellion in Ireland by supporters of James II, he kept Marlborough out of the main fighting. William himself faced the rebels at the Battle of the Boyne. The new Earl of Marlborough was sent to the south of Ireland to deal with another group of Jacobites. In 1692 Marlborough was arrested and stripped of his civil and military posts because he had been in contact with the exiled King James II. Marlborough, disappointed by his lack of promotion had thought it advisable to build bridges with James in France. He was imprisoned in the tower for six weeks on a charge of treason. There was not enough evidence to bring Marlborough to trial and he was released. Churchill wrote to William ‘In all things but [my religion] the King may command me.’

The Battle of Sedgemoor: Marlborough had long been in the service of the Crown before this great military campaign. In 1685 he was close to the centre of events and controversies surrounding the Royal family. There was opposition in the country against the new King James II because he was a Catholic. The Duke of Monmouth, an illegitimate son of Charles II, led a Protestant rebellion against the King. Feversham was appointed to lead the King’s army against this rebellion but it was John Churchill (later 1st Duke of Marlborough) who ensured victory at the Battle of Sedgemoor. The rebels were soundly defeated. Churchill left after the battle and took no part in the savage reprisals that took place afterwards on the orders of the infamous Judge Jeffreys. Churchill was disappointed that it was Feversham who gained all the rewards from the King after this Battle. During the reign of James II Churchill’s wife, Sarah, became very close to the King’s younger daughter, Anne. When it appeared that the King had high hopes of persuading Anne to become a Catholic, John and Sarah advised her to stand firm in the Protestant faith. Churchill also wrote to William of Orange to assure him that he (Churchill) would remain a Protestant. This paved the way for Churchill’s transfer of loyalties from James to William of Orange during the Glorious Revolution in 1688. (William of Orange was the husband of James’s elder daughter, Mary). Protestants hoped that James would die without a son and so William and Mary would inherit the throne. When William was in negotiation with the rebels he agreed to accept the Crown on the understanding that he would rule as a joint monarch. This meant that should his wife pre-decease him, William could then continue to rule as King in his own right. Churchill wrote to William ‘In all things but [my religion] the King may command me.’