Blenheim Palace - History and Facts | History Hit

Blenheim Palace

Woodstock, England, United Kingdom

Blenheim Palace is an eminent 18th century palace that has been the ancestral home of the Dukes of Marlborough for 300 years, and is the birthplace of Winston Churchill.

Lily Johnson

22 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is a vast 18th century palace that has been the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough for 300 years. Visitors are invited to explore its stunning interiors and exhibitions detailing the history of some of its most eminent inhabitants.

Blenheim Palace history

Blenheim Palace was built between 1705 and 1722 after the land on which it now stands was gifted to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough. Marlborough had been rewarded for his victory over French and Bavarian forces at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, after which the palace was named. He was allowed funding from the Crown to build his new home, and in place of a monetary rental payment it was instead capitulated that every year on the battle’s anniversary, a copy of the French royal flag be delivered to the monarch.

Marlborough’s wife Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough was one of Queen Anne‘s favourites and Mistress of the Robes, holding much influence over her both personally and politically. When in 1711 the pair had a furious dispute, funding for the construction of Blenheim ceased, and the Marlboroughs were required to finish the project from their own funds.

Following its completion, Blenheim Palace became the home of the Churchill family for the next 300 years – not without financial difficulty however. For many years at risk of falling into disrepair, Blenheim was saved in the 19th century by the 9th Duke of Marlborough’s marriage to Vanderbilt heiress Consuelo, who brought with her a vast marriage settlement. Though the marriage was an unhappy one and the couple eventually divorced, Blenheim was restored to the prestige it once enjoyed.

On 30 November 1874, it also became the birthplace of Winston Churchill, one of Britain’s most famous leaders and descendant of the 1st Duke of Marlborough.

Blenheim Palace today

Today Blenheim Palace remains the home of the Churchills, with the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough currently residing there. Whether you choose to wander Blenheim Palace independently or as part of a guided tour, you can enjoy endless artistic masterpieces such as the Blenheim Tapestry depicting Lord Marlborough accepting the surrender of the French, and the stunning ceiling paintings of Louis Laguerre. The 18th century house itself is also an architectural marvel with its Baroque design by John Vanburgh, the architect of the stunning Castle Howard.

Exhibitions include “The Untold Story” which explores the lives of the palace’s inhabitants, as well as the Churchill Exhibition, an insightful look at the wartime Prime Minister’s life. The grounds are also spectacular with over 2000 acres of parkland and gardens, a butterfly house, adventure playground, mazes and even a train!

Blenheim Palace has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 and features as one of our Top Ten Tourist Attractions in the United Kingdom.

Getting to Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is situated in the village of Woodstock near Oxford, on the A44 road. Free parking is available at the site, however Blenheim encourages the use of green transport where possible. A number of bus services run to the gates of Blenheim, with a Park and Ride service also available on busy weekends. The nearest train station is Hanborough, around 3 miles away, while Oxford station is around 9 miles away.

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