UNESCO World Heritage Site #288: Blenheim Palace

UNESCO World Heritage Site #288: Blenheim Palace
UNESCO World Heritage Site #288: Blenheim Palace

From the World Heritage inscription:

Blenheim Palace, in Oxfordshire, was designed by John Vanbrugh. The English nation presented the site to John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, in recognition of his victory in 1704 over French and Bavarian troops, a victory which decided the future of the Empire and, in doing so, made him a figure of international importance. The Palace sits within a large walled landscape park, the structure by Vanbrugh overlaid by the designs of Lancelot “Capability” Brown from 1761 onwards.
The design and building of the Palace between 1705 and 1722 represented the beginning of a new style of architecture and its landscaped Park, designed by Lancelot “Capability” Brown, is considered “a naturalistic Versailles”.

In tangible form, Blenheim is an outstanding example of the work of John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor, two of England’s most notable architects. It represents a unique architectural achievement celebrating the triumph of the English armies over the French, and the Palace and its associated Park have exerted great influence on the English Romantic movement which was characterised by the eclecticism of its inspiration, its return to natural sources and its love of nature.

The original landscape set out by John Vanbrugh, who regulated the course of the River Glyme, was later modified by Lancelot “Capability” Brown who created two lakes, seen as one of the greatest examples of naturalistic landscape design.

Blenheim Palace was built by the nation to honour one of its heroes John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, and is also closely associated with Sir Winston Churchill.

Blenheim is a massive palace located in the village of Woodstock, just outside of Oxford, England. While open to the public, it is actually the private property of the 12th Duke of Marlborough. The 11th Duke passed away just 3 weeks prior to my visit to the palace.

It has the distinction of being the only building in the United Kingdom which has the distinction of being called a palace without being a residence of the monarch.

It is also where Winston Churchill was born.

Visiting it gives you an idea of just how different the world was several centuries ago. The palace used to be an actual operating household with staff and a working farm. Today, despite the Duke of Marlborough having a net worth of over $200 million dollars, the palace is simply too expensive to operate. The reason why it is open to the public is that it is the only way to bring in enough money to pay for upkeep.

Getting to Blenheim Palace from London is quite easy. Just take the train from Paddington Station to Oxford. The train takes approximately one hour. Just outside the Oxford train station you can take the S3 bus which will take you to the gates of Blenheim Palace. Just tell the bus driver you are going there and they will provide you with a reminder.

Entrance to the palace is not cheap. An adult ticket is £21.50 (USD$34) if you travel outside of a group. Expect to spend about two hours exploring the building and grounds.