OK, so Blenheim lost a bit of Palace-cred when a certain D. Trump visited recently, but it remains the non plus ultra of non-Royal palaces in Britain.
The site was given by the nation to commemorate the military victory of John Churchill, the first Duke of Marlborough over assorted French and Bavarian armies in 1704.
The palace is, necessarily, impressive. The work of John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor, with ‘Capability’ Brown contributing to the landscaping. Blenheim was funded with a grant of £240,000 from Queen Anne. There was tension between Sarah, the Duke’s Wife and Vanbrugh. Sarah wanted a home, Vanbrugh’s brief was to build an national monument of impressive scale. Money ran out from time to time, delays extended and arguments persisted. Eventually Vanbrugh was banished from the site.
Blenheim Palace needs at least a half-day of your time. The grounds are extensive, it takes a while to physically get around the Palace, gardens and site. Unsurprisingly, the palace is impressive, rather than charming, details such as the library or the small room in which Winston Churchill was born help to make the palace relatable. It's also nice that the Palace often appears as a film location, from 007's Spectre to The BFG.
The gardens include water terraces, Italian Garden, a ‘secret garden’ and an impressive rose garden. The pleasure gardens include a maze and butterfly reached via a miniature train.
Blenheim runs special events such as motor car meets, jousting, Easter Egg hunts on a grand scale. Recent art installations and exhibitions have also been highly successful creatively.
It’s well worth rummaging around the Blenheim Palace website to see what’s on offer. There are various tour options - this is one attraction that justifies a little research. Above all, try to have your visit coincide with one of Blenheim’s special events.