I’ve visited Blenheim Palace on several occasions – the last time was in July, 2017 – and everytime I arrive, I am bowled over by its magnificent facade. It was designed by Sir Vanbrugh and his assistant Nicholas Hawksmoor in 1705.

Blenheim Palace is located eight miles north-west of Oxford on the A44 Evesham Road. The Palace is signposted from junction nine of the M40. The postcode is OX20 1UL. It is a World Heritage Site.

There are several walks around the estate at Blenheim, all clearly marked. All are accessible for wheelchair users but dogs are not allowed in the Formal Gardens or around the Lake and Grand Cascade.

The Gladiator

 

From the South Lawn, follow the signs to the Pleasure Gardens via the Secret Garden, Temple of Health and Roundel. The Formal Gardens were developed by Achille Duchene between 1925 and 1931 for the 9th Duke of Marlborough. The water for the pools is pumped from the spring at Rosamund’s Well. The 10th Duke added the Mermaid Fountain by Waldo Storey [see Cliveden] to the Italian Garden. To the west of the Gardens are the Water Terraces which were based on the Parterre d’Eau at Versailles.

From here, either retrace your steps to the Palace or head out on the Park Perimeter Walk. Cross over the River Glyme by New or Bladon Bridge, keep right and the Grand Cascade by ‘Capability’ Brown and Pump House is on your right.

The Cascade

Near here is the site of the former pleasure grounds which were laid out in 1820s by the 5th Duke of Marlborough. A keen botanist, he spent thousands on creating a Chinese Garden, a Rose Garden, a Rock Garden, an Aquatic Garden and a Dahlia Garden. Enjoy the views back over the Great Lake to the Palace.

Look out for the stone marking the site of Woodstock Palace

The Site of Woodstock Palace

while nearer to the Grand Bridge is Rosamund’s Well. This is the site of the bower created by Henry II in the twelfth century for his mistress, Rosamund de Clifford.

Rosamund’s Well

From here you have the option to either walk up to the Column of Victory, go back to the Palace over the Grand Bridge

The Grand Bridge by Sir John Vanbrugh

or walk around the Queen Pool and Woodstock Gate.

Woodstock Gate

There’s one more area of Blenheim to explore. Walk to the right of the South Lawn towards the Boathouse and enjoy the Temple of Diana, the Churchill Memorial Garden

Churchill’s Memorial Garden

and the Rose Garden. The Rose Garden was laid out in the early 1870s by the 7th Duke but was redesigned by his Head Gardener, Mr. Temple.

The Rose Garden

And don’t miss the Cedar of Lebanon in the Park which appeared in the 2007 film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Harry Potter’s Tree

There’s so much to see at Blenheim that you can easily spend a day here.

History

Henry I built a hunting lodge at Woodstock and in 1129, enclosed the park. Henry’s grandson, Henry II remodelled the building into Woodstock Palace. The Palace was developed over the centuries but was mostly destroyed during the English Civil War.

John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough was given the Royal Manor of Woodstock by Queen Anne in 1705 in gratitude for defeating the French at the Battle of Blindheim, close to the River Danube. Sir John Vanbrugh and his assistant Nicholas Hawksmoor were appointed as architects while Henry Wise designed the garden. In 1764, Lancelot Brown was appointed to landscape the park and at the end of the nineteenth century, the 9th Duke carried out an extensive restoration programme. The estate is still owned by the Dukes of Marlborough.

View over the Lake

There are plenty of cafes and a shop at Blenheim.

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