Blenheim Palace has been the official residence of the Dukes of Marlborough for over 200 years, is called Palace but it does not belong to the Royal Family, a unique case in the UK.
Since 1987 it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is in Oxfordshire, about an hour and a half from London.
The history of its construction was troubled, it was built in honor of John Churchill the first Duke of Marlborough, after his victory at the Battle of Blenheim against the French and Bavarians.
The wife of John Churchill, Sarah, wanted the architect Christopher Wren, who had built the new cathedral of St Paul’s in London. While her husband called Sir John Vanbrug, who was a playwright and not an architect. But in those days, many competed to build buildings, even though they were not professional architects, so that was not very unusual.
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In the meantime during the construction of Blenheim Palace, Sarah, who could not stand Vanbrugh, made life impossible for the playwright. The Duchess wanted not only a monument to her husband but also a home to live in and the plan of Sir Vanburgh was not really suitable to be a home.
The beginnings of Blenheim Palace
The duchess was also concerned about finances and how much money was needed for this project. She finally managed to banish Sir Vanbrugh and the project was completed by the architect Nicholas Hawksmoor, after the death of the Duke in 1722.
However Blenheim Palace was built in the English Baroque style , one of the few buildings in this style that lasted a very short time.
The idea was to create an austere monument to the Duke, a building which would be visible from kilometres in the distance.
It was not a great success, many hated this building, including Winston Churchill himself (cousin of the Duke of Marlborough at the time) who was born and spent part of his childhood there.
You must look at Blenheim Palace from afar, Sir Vanbrugh had played a lot with prospective, and the effect of the palace together with the park and gardens. The views that you can see are well choreographed, nothing was left to chance.
After her husband’s death, The Duchess was not very interested in the gardens, left abandoned until the fourth Duke of Marlborough, who decided to take on the famous gardener Capability Brown.
As a part of the house the gardens are open to the public although this is still the home of the Duke of Marlborough.. During the year they also held several events.
How to get to Blenheim Palace?
Blenheim Palace is near Oxford, you can include it when you are visiting this city, or visit directly from London. There are direct buses from Victoria Coach Station on certain days of the year.
Otherwise National Express always offers coach tickets at very low prices. You can also reach Oxford by train from London or other cities in England. There is a bus from Oxford City Centre that will take you to Blenheim Palace in about 35 minutes.