Blenheim Palace is the magnificent centrepiece of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, with 90 acres of award-winning formal gardens, and surrounded by 2000 acres of walled landscaped parkland.
As one of the most renowned stately homes in the country, Blenheim Palace offers visitors a captivating blend of stunning architecture , rich heritage, and serene natural beauty. Whether you’re exploring the opulent interior, strolling through the enchanting gardens, or immersing yourself in the fascinating history, Blenheim Palace promises an unforgettable experience for all who venture within its regal walls.
The birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill is the top tourist attraction in Oxfordshire with the AVLA recording 806,806 visitors in 2022, compared to 728,006 for Ashmolean Museum and 675,557 for the Bodleian Libraries.
And there are a few reasons why this English country house is unique, firstly it’s the only private building with the title Palace which is not owned by the Crown or the Church.
It was also designed at the end of the rare English Baroque architecture style by John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor after they impressed the Duke and duchess with Castle Howard.
The palace takes it’s name after the Battle of Blenheim in 1704 in Blindheim, Bavaria. Here, General John Churchill, recently anointed by Queen Anne as the 1st Duke of Marlborough and commander of the English and Dutch armed forces, led the Allied forces in battle against the French and Bavarians.
The victory is considered a key turning point in the War of the Spanish Succession, and the success of the British Empire. And as thanks, the nation gifted him land in the Thames Valley, with the crown funding the building of the mansion.
And if that doesn’t make it special enough, in 1761 famed landscape gardener Lancelot “Capability” Brown was hired to transform the garden into a masterpiece, and rediverted the River Glyme to create a series of cascades, waterfalls and lake.
Incidently, Brown’s first ever landscape commission was for a new lake in the park at Kiddington Hall. Further examples of his work in Oxfordshire include Fawley Court,
Kirtlington, Nuneham Courtenay, and Wootton Place Rectory.
So that’s the brief history covered, let’s see what there is to see in the Blenheim Estate:
Step into Blenheim Palace and be captivated by the opulent State Rooms adorned with gilded accents and housing priceless collections, all set against the backdrop of stunning stonework. Immerse yourself in the beauty and magnificence of this remarkable Grade I listed building.
With Palace, Park, and Gardens admission you gain access to all public areas. Currently this costs £35 for adults, £33 for concessions, £29.50 for Students and £20 for kids (3-16). Family tickets are £90. All are automatically converted into a free annual pass.
In addition there are NHS and Blue light discounts and 30% off for green travel with proof arrived by bike, train or bus. If you live local and will come more often, the privilege pass includes 15% of restaurants and shops for an extra £8 per person.
Price of these tickets includes access to:
- Multimedia tour of the Palace State Rooms: Unveil the fascinating stories behind the grandeur as you explore the State Rooms with the aid of a captivating multimedia tour.
- Sir Winston Churchill Exhibition and Stables Exhibition: Delve into the life and legacy of the iconic leader through an engaging exhibition, offering insights into his extraordinary journey.
- The ‘Untold Story’: Experience a dynamic and interactive visitor experience that breathes life into the rich history of Blenheim Palace, revealing hidden tales and captivating narratives.
- Entry to day-specific events: Enhance your visit by attending special events taking place on the day of your visit. Discover the exciting line-up of activities accessible with standard admission on the Blenheim Palace website.
- The Chapel, resting place of John and Sarah Churchill.
For those seeking an even deeper exploration of the Palace, additional tours of the Private Apartments are available for an extra £5 (£4.50 concessions and kids):
- ‘Upstairs’ tours of the guest bedrooms: Ascend to the upper levels of the Palace and immerse yourself in the lavish guest bedrooms, where history and luxury intertwine.
- ‘Downstairs’ tours of the staff areas: Delve into the behind-the-scenes workings of Blenheim Palace as you explore the staff areas, gaining insights into the hidden aspects of its daily operations.
For fans of nature, the Blenheim palace circular walk is a must, but even a simple explore of the indelible mark left by the visionary genius of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown is essential.
Over the course of ten years, this esteemed landscape architect crafted a remarkable legacy, sculpting the Great Lake and orchestrating the planting of countless trees. The result is a harmonious landscape that appears effortlessly natural, yet every detail has been meticulously designed to create a captivating visual symphony.
Within the Parkland, several Sites of Special Scientific Interest await exploration, including the mesmerizing Great Lake and the ancient oaks that grace High Park.
Embark on a buggy tour to traverse the sprawling landscape, or choose from a selection of recommended Park walks and free trails to embark on a serene journey. Along the way, witness the rich diversity of wildlife that thrives within this captivating peaceful sanctuary.
Experience the captivating allure of Blenheim Palace’s Formal Gardens, meticulously designed and shaped by esteemed garden visionaries like Henry Wise and Achille Duchêne over centuries. These magnificent gardens offer a remarkable journey through various styles and eras, showcasing the evolution of garden design.
Enveloping the grandeur of the Palace, the Formal Gardens invite you to discover their enchanting wonders. You’ll be able to experience the splendour of the majestic Water Terraces, where cascading fountains and captivating vistas mesmerize.
Delve into the Duke’s Private Italian Garden, a tranquil sanctuary inspired by the elegance of Italy. Uncover the secrets of the serene Secret Garden, a hidden gem brimming with treasures.
Pay homage to Sir Winston Churchill in the newly created Churchill Memorial Garden, a place of reflection and remembrance. And surrender to the delicate charm of the Rose Garden, a tapestry of beauty and fragrance.
For an immersive exploration of the Formal Gardens, join the complimentary one-hour walking tour. Simply register at the Welcome Desk upon arrival to secure your place on this captivating journey. Expert guides will lead you through the garden’s highlights, sharing captivating stories, knowledge bites, and informed insights along the way.
Hop aboard the delightful Miniature Train and let it whisk you away to the enchanting Walled Garden, a haven of delights for the whole family. Lose yourself in the captivating Marlborough Maze, an expansive labyrinth that holds the title of being the largest symbolic giant hedge maze in all of Europe with 2 miles of Yew trees. Explore its winding paths, solve its mysteries, and revel in the thrill of discovery, or getting lost depending on your sense of direction.
You’ll have the freedom to visit the mesmerizing Butterfly House, a sanctuary where colourful fluttering wings grace the air. For the little adventurers, the Adventure Playground awaits, offering boundless opportunities for energetic play and joyful exploration. When it’s time to unwind and soak in tranquillity, seek solace in the peaceful Lavender Garden.
Restaurants and Café
There are exquisite dining options on site, where you can indulge in a variety of culinary delights. For a memorable meal, visit the Clementine’s on the Lawn restaurant, offering a delectable lunch menu, and a delectable Sunday roast. Or consider the popular Blenheim Palace afternoon tea experience.
If you’re looking for a more casual setting, the Oxfordshire Pantry and Stables Café are excellent choices, serving freshly brewed coffee, delectable cakes, scrumptious sandwiches, pastries, and a selection of hot meals.
For a family-friendly option, head to the Walled Garden Pizzeria. Delight in the aroma of freshly made wood-fired pizzas, accompanied by flavourful salads and sandwiches.
The park hosts many renowned events, concerts and festivals and these include:
- Blenheim Food Festival: May
- Blenheim Palace Flower Show: June
- Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials: Thursday 14th – Sunday 17th September 2023
- Halloween Spooky Illuminated Trail: Friday 20th – Sunday 29th October 2023
- Christmas at Blenheim Palace: 17th November 2023 – 1st January 2024
Where is Blenheim Palace?
Blenheim Palace is located in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England. It is situated about 8 miles northwest of Oxford and approximately 60 miles north-west of London, on the edge of the Cotswolds.
The palace is set within a vast estate encompassing beautiful parkland, woodlands, and formal gardens, making it a tranquil retreat in the heart of the English countryside. Its strategic location provides easy access for visitors from nearby towns and cities, offering a convenient destination for a day trip or a longer stay to explore the palace and its surroundings.
How to get there
Address – Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire OX20 1UL
If arriving by car, there is good parking and look for signposts for Junction 8 and the A44 on the M40.
There are no direct trains, but you can get from Oxford to Blenheim Palace by the Stagecoach Bus (S3 and S7) from the Oxford Railway Station.
You can ride a bike from Oxford as it’s on the National Cycle Route 5 route.
At the time of writing, the Blenheim Palace website is offering 30% off Palace, Park & Garden tickets for visitors arriving by bus or bike with the code GREEN30 at the online checkout. You can buy Blenheim Palace tickets here.
What are the Opening Times?
Open all year daily (except Christmas Day)
The Park: 9.00 – 18.00
The Formal Gardens: 10.00 – 16.00
The Palace: 10.30 – 16.45
Can you get into the Blenheim gardens for free?
There is a public path that takes you into side gates which gives you free access to some parts of the Parkland, including the lake, although access past the bridge to the house is prohibited.
One suitable location is the free parking at Combe Lodge, East End, Combe, Witney, OX29 8ND with a white gate onto the path. And another is by the Black Prince Pub (location above), look for the green gate.