Blenheim Palace is a monumental country house in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. It’s the principal residence of the Dukes of Marlborough and the only non-royal, country house in England to hold the title of Palace. It would be an understatement if I said it wasn’t impressive, this is a huge stately pile.
We had to wait a little while before going into the Palace so I took a few pictures around the Great Courtyard and one of the ‘Column of Victory’. It was built in 1730 by the 1st Duke of Marlborough to commemorate his victory in the war of the Spanish Succession.
After walking around the wonderful interior of the Palace we went over to the East Courtyard to the Oxfordshire Pantry to grab a sandwich and a hot drink. Because of the current Covid restrictions all the tables were outside but thankfully it wasn’t raining.
Suitably refreshed we walked past the gates of the Courtyard towards the Formal Gardens. You can’t fail to notice the ornate bridge on the right between the Great Lake and the Queen Pool, which is called Vanbrugh’s Grand Bridge. You can imagine carriages driven across the bridge when the Marlborough’s were touring their estate. Perhaps they still do?
Just by the entrance to the formal gardens we paused to look down the lake by the the boathouse where you could see work going on in the area of the Cascades. We were intrigued by a remote-controlled lawn mower which you can see in the left of the above picture. It was going up and down the grassy bank but there was no sign of anyone about!
As you go into the gardens the first building you come across is the Temple of Diana. It’s famous as being the place where Winston Churchill proposed to his future wife Clementine Hozier. Wish the sun had been out when I took this picture but that’s the way it is.
Despite it being a grey old day the rose garden looked beautiful. We really enjoyed sitting in there for a few minutes. There are scores of different varieties of roses and no sign of any black spot!
We eventually dragged ourselves away from the rose garden and continued along the path through the Arboretum. There was hardly anyone about and so we meandered through the trees and across the South Lawn towards the back of the Palace.
Here there is a small formal garden which has a very Victorian feel about it, probably because of the central fountain you see in stately homes. This area was cordoned off but it was easy to get over the chain and take this picture. Hopping back, we continued across the South Lawn to the Secret Garden.
It must be quite a secret as we were the only ones there. The pond was surrounded by lots of ferns and had a Japanese bridge at one side. It was very damp in this area so the ferns were doing well. As we came out of the garden I spotted this little statue which I thought had a lovely, sweet face. We then headed back to towards the house as we didn’t need to go on to the play area.
Back to the house I just had time to take some pictures of the Italian Garden before leaving the formal gardens and heading to The Orangery for my birthday treat.
In my previous Blog I explained why we visited Blenheim when we did …my lovely friends had given me a wonderful birthday present – afternoon tea for two in The Orangery. What an absolute treat! A glass of fizz got the high tea off to a good start and then an array of sandwiches, scones and cakes arrived. We worked very hard to get through all this sumptuous food but we didn’t quite make it. Doggy bags are provided.
What a fantastic tea! I’d thoroughly recommend it – not just the food, the setting was lovely and the staff couldn’t do enough for us.
As the weather was closing in we decide not to walk over the bridge to the Column of Victory. It was a good decision as it started to rain as we walked back to the car.
Our visit to Blenheim had been a truly memorable one. The admission charge isn’t cheap but you can go back as many times as you like during the following twelve months. At the moment not all the rooms in the Palace nor the exhibitions are open but there is still a lot to do and see. Hopefully it won’t be too long before everything is open again …