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A grand palace filled with classic paintings, tapestries, furniture, and surrounded by landscaped gardens

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Palace Interior
Formal Gardens
Grand Bridge
Pleasure Gardens
Light Railway
Blenheim Palace's story starts in the year 1704, when a man called John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough, won an important battle against the French. To show her appreciation, Queen Anne granted him and his family a large area of land, and the funds to build a palace there.

Photo gailf548
Unfortunately, John's wife, the Duchess, caused a few complications. She was an opinionated woman, who wasn't afraid to share her thoughts with anybody and everybody in range. She had strong ideas about the design of the house, and before too long the architect became the recipient of her wrath. His name was John Vanbrugh, and he was known for his flamboyant style. The Duchess, meanwhile, wanted something that was more comfortable than decadent. The two clashed fiercely, and everyone started to get a bit hot under the collar. Queen Anne herself became especially annoyed with the whole lot of them, and royal funding was soon withdrawn. The situation became so serious that the Duke and Duchess even had to flee the country, and were only able to return after the Queen's death a few years later. They carried on building the palace, although the Duke had to finance the rest of the project out of his own pocket.
The work continued for many years, but in the end, John Churchill didn't live to see his palace's completion. He's still remembered here though, with a 40-metre high monument in the grounds. It's called the Column of Victory, and it's crowned with a statue of the Duke.
The Churchill family have continued to live at Blenheim Palace, all the way up until the present day, and they still hold the title of Duke of Marlborough. In the 19th century, the grandson of the 7th Duke was born here. His name was Winston Churchill, and he went on to become one of Britain's most revered heroes. This has cemented Blenheim Palace's reputation as one of the most important buildings in England.

Photo Magnus Manske
Naturally, it has become a major tourist destination. The palace really is a sight to behold, and as it first comes into view, it's difficult to not be impressed by its scale. As you enter the building, you find yourself in the Great Hall, with its ornate stone carvings, and painted ceiling. This is the kind of opulence you can expect throughout the entire palace. It's filled with classic paintings, tapestries, furniture, and other treasures. Many of the artworks depict the first Duke of Marlborough, defeating the French in battle.
Some of the highlights on show are the saloon, which is a huge dining room, and the long library, which is used to display many full-length portraits. Upstairs, you'll find the new "Untold Story" exhibition, which uses projection and touch screen technologies to tell some of the lesser-known stories of the palace's past. Another must-see exhibit is dedicated to Winston Churchill. You can see the very room in which he was born, in 1874. He arrived a few weeks early, which is appropriate for someone famous for his impatience.

Inside the Palace.
Photo Jvhertum
Outside, the building is surrounded by its beautifully landscaped gardens. They include rose patches, a secret garden, and various water features. The biggest body of water is of course, the lake. This is the work of the famous landscape designer, Capability Brown, who created it by damming the nearby River Glyme.

Secret Garden.
Photo Random_fotos
Directly in front of the palace, a spectacular Grand Bridge crosses the lake. This impressive structure may look the part now, but when it was built, the lake wasn't here, and the only thing that the bridge crossed was a tiny stream. It looked severely out of place! One onlooker commented: "the bridge, like the beggars at the old Duchess's gate, begs for a drop of water and is refused."

Grand Bridge.
Photo andrew_j_w
Situated just a little way away from the main palace is another group of buildings, collectively known as the Pleasure Gardens. This complex features several attractions, including an adventure playground, and a butterfly house. There's also a popular hedge maze, which covers over an acre of land! This area is linked to the palace via a small train line.

Light Railway.
Photo DavidHBolton

Find your way in the maze.
Photo simononly
The palace and its gardens are set within 2100 acres of beautiful parkland. This is well worth exploring, as there are plenty of gorgeous views to hunt out. The most obvious sight though, is the long, arrow-straight avenue of trees, which is aimed directly at the front door of Blenheim Palace. If you follow this route, you'll pass the Duke's Column of Victory, before passing over the Grand Bridge, and arriving at the palace. It makes for the perfect approach.
Visitor Information
Blenheim Palace is open daily, February to October, 10.30am to 5.30pm (plus weekend opening in winter). Entry costs around £20 for adults, £10 children. Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX20 1PP. Tel: 01993 810 500

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