An eighteenth century house and park with a nineteenth century garden. The palace, designed by Vanbrugh c1705, was the nation's reward to the first Duke of Marlborough for his victories over Louis XIV. Henry Wise designed the garden, in an Anglo-Dutch Baroque manner with a military cast. It had mock fortifications and regimented parterres. The first Duke died in 1722. During the 1720s his wife, Sarah, canalised the River Glyme and had a triumphal bridge errected. In 1764, the 4th Duke commissioned Lancelot Brown, then at the apogee of his fame. Brown transformed the park by making the canal into a serpentine lake. He also naturalised the woods, designed a cascade and placed clumps in strategic positions. During the 1930s, the 9th Duke replanted a 'military' avenue east of the palace and commissioned Achille Duchêne to design a fine water parterre, west of the palace.
Head Gardener's Comment
The 4th Duke brought Capability Brown and William Chambers to make major changes to Palace Park and Gardens. The 5th Duke who was a horticulturalist of international standing developed extensive gardens. These are now sadly lost except for the Rose Garden recently restored by the present Duke.
The greatest impact on Blenheim was made by the 9th Duke. He created the formal gardens to east and west of the Palace, he restored of the Great Court and he replanted the entrance avenue and the Grand Avenue. In total he had half million trees planted in the Park. Inside the house the 9th Duke was responsible for a complete redecoration of the State Rooms. He also added extensively to the collection at Blenheim particularly the furniture. In the twentieth century during the both World Wars the dukes allowed Blenheim to be used in various ways for the war effort. The most famous member of the family was Sir Winston Churchill who was born at Blenheim and spent a considerable amount of time at the Palace. Winston was the grandson of the 7th duke. He was a close friend of the 9th Duke and Duchess.
The present Duke has committed his life to the preservation of this great house and it was during his time at Blenheim that the Palace became a World Heritage Site.
Surrounding the Palace are over 2000 acres of beautiful â€˜Capabilityâ€™ Brown parkland, lakes, fountains and formal gardens including the recently restored â€˜Secret Gardenâ€™, the Italian Garden, the Water Terraces, Rose Garden and Grand Cascade. A miniature train, a great favourite with all ages, connects the Palace to the Pleasure Gardens where a range of fun activities for children are located including the Marlborough Maze, the Butterfly House, the Lavender Garden, Adventure Playground and Blenheim Bygones exhibitio
Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England, OX20 1PP
Gardens open daily from mid February to late December. Park open all year except Christmas Day.
My husband and I visited Blenheim this past May and I was thoroughly underwhelmed. The grounds are massive and there is much to see but the number of tourists (as were we) made touring the house - which was undergoing a huge restoration of the facade - and the gardens slow and torturous. And the very best part of the gardens was closed off to tourists, completely. I really wasn't impressed and I wouldn't be inclined to visit, again.
This place has such a lot to see ...the amazing Park in all its Brownian glory, the formal gardens, the Rose gardens, the even newer gardens[very 90's in style] in the trees ,south east of the Palace and the walk running directly south down to the Cascades.
The scale and romantic grandeur of the place is wonderful.take time to just soak it all in.
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