Visiting Britain's majestic Blenheim Palace
England is dotted with a hoard of magnificent palaces, countryside mansions and stately historic homes. Since the raved about hit TV series, Downton Abbey, interest in these architectural marvels of opulence and the elite members of society that occupied them has reawakened around the world. Fans travel from all over, simply to walk in the footsteps of their favourite fictional characters, and to live their fantasy moment in a bygone world of luxurious aristocracy...
Where is it?
On a winter trip to the UK I visited a good friend that emigrated from South Africa. He moved to this charming and posh little countryside village called Woodstock (just down the road from Oxford), and about 1,5 hours drive from London. On the doorstep of this small rural settlement lies the magnificent and world renowned Blenheim Palace.
Built between 1705 - 1722, this enormous residence has 200 rooms and 1000 windows! It is the only palace in England that does not belong to the royal family. It served as a military hospital during the 1st World War, as well as a safe haven for college boys in WWII. In 1987 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Blenheim is also famed for being Winston Churchill's birthplace and childhood home. It boasts the largest privately owned pipe organ in Europe (with over 2300 pipes) - scheduled performances by acclaimed musicians take place frequently.
Room to roam...
The 2000 acre estate offers beautiful scenic buggy tours, walks and trails. From the 150 acres of formal gardens, to the expansive parklands beyond (here you'll find the oldest collection of oak trees in Europe!). As I wandered through the main gate and down the lane leading to the palace, I couldn't help but feel a regal shiver down my spine. The impressive Baroque masterpiece rests on perfectly manicured green grounds and gleams an almost golden colour in the late afternoon sun.
The sheer size of the place is staggering, and it's hard to believe that it's still called "home" by the 12th Duke of Marlborough. Okay, the family only occupies their private apartments (which you can see on a tour). However, I think it's still a pretty impressive address to have your mail delivered to!
On the grounds you'll pass many locals walking their dogs (on leashes of course), jogging school kids and you'll find some tourists too. Regrettably they were doing renovations on the interior when I visited, so I couldn't have a look inside. Next time!
You gotta go!
To plan your visit head on over to their official webpage!
** Banner/ cover image by Anglotopia.net
All other photos were taken by me © Traverate