Blenheim Palace is a large and monumental country house situated in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England. It is the only non episcopal country house, in England, to hold the title “palace”. The Palace, one of England’s greatest houses in every sense of the word, was built between 1705 and circa 1722.
Its construction was originally intended to be a gift to the 1st Duke of Marlborough from a grateful nation in return for military triumph against the French. However, it soon became the subject of political infighting which led to Marlborough’s exile, the fall from power of his Duchess, and the irreparable damage to the reputation of the architect Sir John Vanbrugh. Designed in the rare, and short lived, English baroque style, architectural appreciation of the palace is as divided today as it was in the 1720s. It is unique in its combined usage as a family home, mausoleum and national monument. The plaque above the massive East gate gives a sanitised history of the palace’s construction, reading: “Under the auspices of a munificent sovereign this house was built for John Duke of Marlborough and his Duchess Sarah, by Sir J Vanbrugh between the years 1705 and 1722. And the Royal Manor of Woodstock, together with a grant of £240,000 towards the building of Blenheim, was given by Her Majesty Queen Anne and confirmed by act of parliament.” The truth is that the building of the palace was a mine-field of political intrigue, and scheming on a Machiavellian scale by Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough.
Following the palace’s completion, it has been the home of the Churchill family for the last three hundred years, various members of the family have in that period wrought various changes, in the interiors, park and gardens, some for the better, others for the worse. At the end of the 19th century, the palace and the Churchills were saved from ruin by an American marriage, thus today externally the palace remains, in good repair, exactly as completed.
ENTRANCE FEES TO BLENHEIM PALACE
Winter Opening Times 2020
Attraction/Area Opening times
The Palace 10.30-16.30 (Last entry 15.45)
The Park 09.00-18.00 or dusk if earlier.
The Formal Gardens 10.30-16.30 (Last entry 15.45)
The East Courtyard Visitor Centre 09.30-17.00
Annual Pass Kiosk 09.30-16.30 (Monday-Friday) / 09.30-17.30 (Saturday-Sunday)
The Oxfordshire Pantry 09.30-17.00
The East Courtyard Shop 09.30-17.00
The Water Terrace Café 10.00-16.30. Last orders 16.00
The Pleasure Gardens 10.30-15.30
The Pleasure Gardens Toy Shop CLOSED. Reopens Easter 2020. 10.00-17.00
The Train to the Pleasure Gardens 11.00-15.30 (Saturday and Sunday only)
See Covid-safe measures here: