What’s so special about Blenheim Palace?Blenheim Palace is most famous for its role in the life of UK Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, who was born in the palace and spent many of his early years there. The land was gifted to the Churchill family after the 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, led British troops to victory over the French in the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, and is still the seat of the Duke of Marlborough today. Its Baroque style was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh, and the exceptional grounds are also a famous example of the English landscape garden. The palace is also the only building in the UK to be named a palace that isn’t owned by the Royal Family or the church and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
What’s there to see inside the Palace?Tickets to the palace include access to the palace’s luxurious staterooms, the use of an audio guide, and entry to the Churchill exhibition, which recounts the life of Winston Churchill from his youth, through his military and political service and death in April 1955. You’ll also have access to an exhibition called The Untold Story, which tells stories of the Churchill family through the centuries via recordings of actors, puppets, and special effects.
Do I need to see the gardens?If you’re really excited by fancy furniture and interior design, then maybe you’d rather skip the gardens. But if you’re everyone else, you should absolutely visit the gardens! The gardens were designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, one of the icons of English landscape gardening, whose designs were copied throughout the royal palaces of Europe. The goal was to create a garden that felt natural, as opposed to the rigid geometry of French gardens, with rolling lawns, lakes, groves of trees, and recreations of classical temples or picturesque bridges or ruins. The gardens of Blenheim Palace include the Formal Gardens, which include the Water Terraces and the Rose Garden, and the Pleasure Gardens, which include the Marlborough Maze, the Butterfly House, and an adventure playground.
Can we bring a picnic, or are there options for lunch at the palace?You can bring a picnic along with you and enjoy it in the park, the management just asks that you don’t bring disposable barbeques, that you use the bins provided and take any trash with you when you leave. There are 4 options if you’d rather buy something on the day. The Orangery Restaurant, the Oxfordshire Pantry (a café), the Water Terrace Café, and the Pleasure Gardens Pizza Café. Please note that you might need to book a table in the Orangery Restaurant, as it’s very popular during high season.
How long should I plan for my visit?You can easily make a day-trip out of a trip to Blenheim Palace and its gardens. Spend up to an hour inside the private apartments of the palace, before taking your time to explore the extensive grounds and taking some time for lunch. If you’re in a rush you can probably see everything in about 3 to 4 hours, but if you take your time then you’ll find enough to do to fill 5 to 6 hours.
Will my children enjoy a visit to Blenheim Palace?Children will probably enjoy the gardens more than the private apartments inside the Palace, though if they’re older and are interested in history then they might enjoy the rooms as well. Outside there’s a miniature train which takes visitors from the palace to the Pleasure Gardens where you’ll find a tropical butterfly house to explore, the Marlborough Maze to puzzle through, and an adventure playground.