Blenheim Palace is a monumental country house situated in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England, residence of the dukes of Marlborough.
It is the only non-royal non-episcopal country house in England to hold the title of palace.
Blenheim Palace was built as a gift from Queen Anne and a grateful nation to the 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, in recognition of his victory in 1704 over French and Bavarian troops.
Blenheim Palace was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh.
Built between 1705 and 1722 and characterized by an eclectic style and a return to national roots, it is a perfect example of an 18th-century princely dwelling.
The palace sits within a large walled landscape park, created by the famous landscape gardener
The estate cover almost 8,500,000 square meters (2,100 acres).
The palace has 187 rooms and is one of England’s largest houses.
Blenheim Palace is unique in its combined use as a family home, mausoleum and national monument.
The ceiling roof of the entrance portico is decorated with six remarkable eyes. Three of these are blue and three are brown and all of them look vaguely masonic in their design. They were painted in 1928 by artist Colin Gill based on strict instructions from Gladys, the remarkably beautiful and eccentric 2nd wife of the Ninth Duke of Marlborough.
Much of the grandeur of the Great Hall is attributable to its soaring, 19.5-meter (64-foot) height. Flanked by tiers of marble pillars and archways to lead your gaze upward, the impressive hall epitomizes the triumphal spirit in which Blenheim Palace was built.
State Rooms where the intricate detail of stunning portraits, tapestries and furniture is set against the scale and ambition of the interior architecture. [Photo below: the First State Room]
Originally the master bedroom, the Third State Room is a treasure trove of gilded moldings and masterpieces depicting the glories of the first Duke of Marlborough. Above the mantel is a painting of His Grace with his chief military engineer, and on the wall to its right is a tapestry narrative of the duke’s victory over French forces.
The collection of portraits and furniture housed within the Red Drawing Room is one of the most historic in the Palace. It also contains fine bronzes, plaques and a set of elegant Victorian ‘chaperone’ sofas against the back wall, where chaperones would sit on the end seat making sure there were no unseemly ‘goings-on’ between their charges.
The Blenheim Tapestry occupies pride of place in the Green Writing Room. The Blenheim Tapestry is the main piece of the priceless, world-renowned Marlborough Taprestries known as the ‘Victories’ series, depicting the first Duke of Marlborough’s victory at the Battle of Blenheim. They were commissioned by the first Duke himself, and are supreme examples of the weavers’ art.
Although Blenheim’s state dining room is used only once a year, for the family’s Christmas dinner, its table is always formally set with crystal, china, and silver, on exhibit for public tours. Wall paintings by 18th-century French artist Louis Laguerre depict figures from around the world and include a sneakily placed self-portrait of the artist.
Converted from a picture gallery to a library by the eighth duke, the nave-like room stretches 55 meters (180 feet) long and reaches almost 10 meters (32 feet) high. The Long Library is thought to be the second longest room in any house in England. It is home to over 10,000 books collected by the 9th Duke of Marlborough.
The Willis Organ was originally positioned in the central bay of the Long Library. The organ was later moved to the north end of the Library in 1902. The plaque on the front of the organ reads: ‘In memory of happy days and as a tribute to this glorious home we leave thy voice to speak within these walls in years to come when ours are still. MM & LM’ (The 8th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough).
The Palace Chapel was the last part of the palace to be built, commissioned by the Duchess in 1730, 11 years after the death of the 1st Duke. It was designed by William Kent, and statues of the Duke and Duchess depicted as Caesar and Caesarina adorn the great sarcophagus. In bas relief at the base of the tomb, the Duchess ordered to be depicted the surrender of Marshal Tallard. However, the theme throughout the palace of honouring the Duke did not reach its apotheosis until the dowager duchess’s death in 1744. Then, the Duke’s coffin was returned to Blenheim from its temporary resting place, Westminster Abbey, and husband and wife were interred together and the tomb erected and completed. Now Blenheim had indeed become a pantheon and mausoleum. Successive Dukes and their wives are also interred in the vault beneath the chapel.
The Column of Victory was built in the northern part of the Park and stands at 41 meters (134 feet) high. It is crowned by a lead statue of the 1st Duke of Marlborough which depicts him dressed as aRoman general.
The Temple of Diana was designed and built by Sir William Chambers. It was intended to be a small summer house. Sir Winston Churchill would later propose to his future wife, Clementine Hozier, in this romantic spot.
Created over the centuries by esteemed garden designers such as Henry Wise and Achille Duchêne, the Blenheim Palace Formal Gardens reflect a journey through the styles of the ages. The Formal Gardens surround the Palace, and they include the majestic Water Terraces, the Duke’s Private Italian Garden, the tranquil Secret Garden with all of its hidden treasures, the new Churchill Memorial Garden and the beautifully delicate Rose Garden.
Blenheim Palace is a rare example of the English Baroque style which lasted only 40 years from1690-1730.
At the end of the 19th century, the palace was saved from ruin by funds gained from the 9th Duke of Marlborough’s marriage to American railroad heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt.
Blenheim Palace served as a convalescence hospital for wounded soldiers during World War I. During World War II, it served as an evacuation spot for boys from Malvern College in Worcestershire. During the war it also served as a base of operations for the Home Guard and MI5. The lake even served as a training spot for the D-Day landings.
Blenheim palace is birthplace and family home of wartime Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.
The Churchills’ home for centuries, Blenheim Palace first opened its doors to the public in 1950.
Blenheim Palace was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
The rent due to the Crown for the land was set at the peppercorn rent or quit-rent of one copy of the French royal flag to be tendered to the Monarch annually on the anniversary of the Battle of Blenheim. This flag is displayed by the Monarch on a 17th-century French writing table in Windsor Castle.
The palace remains the home of the Dukes of Marlborough, the present incumbent of the title being Charles James (Jamie) Spencer-Churchill, 12th Duke of Marlborough. Charles James succeeded the Dukedom upon his father’s death on 16 October 2014.