The first week we arrived in the U.K. we stayed in a hotel in Birmingham and downstairs was a rack full of brochures on what to see in the area, which is where I first stumbled across Blenheim Palace. It's beauty and grandeur on the brochure cover caught my eye. Maybe something about it just reminded me of the Palace of Versailles...which is definitely my happy place (more on that in a future post.)
(Above: Can you see why this place caught my attention?)
Well, life got ahead of us and we got distracted by all the shiny, new discoveries that England had to offer and Blenheim got pushed to the back burner. But just a few weeks ago we finally made the drive toward Oxford; every chance we get we like to go out and explore the countryside here. The landscape curves and weaves and the roads tend to stay small and wind around with the land which (except for the occasional hedgerow) will lend to some beautiful views. The weather can be tricky here, but the way the sun and mist play on the hills, it's practically screen saver picturesque. Needless to say...any time you get the chance to drive England's countryside, do it! It's so worth it. Just watch out for those 2 lane roads merging into a 1 laner, sharing the road with oncoming traffic is tricky, but it's all part of the charm.
After a short, one and a half hour drive we saw Blenheim in view, and what a view it was!
(Above: So I'm a little new at this panoramic thing, but I'm loving it! Don't worry friends...I'll get better. Lol!)
(Above: Our view at tea time!)
(Above: The hubby thinks he's hilarious.)
(Above: Chasing pheasant on the palace grounds.)
Blenheim is a beautiful palace. The only other palace in England second to Buckingham in London. While video chatting with my father-in-law (whom, I kid you not, knows EVERYTHING!) while running after my son, running after the sheep...really, it was a hilarious scene, people definitely knew we were tourists...he was kind enough to explain to me the difference between a castle and a palace. A palace is not fortified; not prepared for battle. There is no moat, no guarded castle walls, no draw bridge, etc. It's more of a show of wealth. The land and property the palace now rests on was given to the 1st Duke of Marlborough as a gift in helping to win the Battle of Spanish Succession over the French (Battle of Blenheim) in the 18th century. Blenheim was built to commemorate the victory and stands as a monument of greatness!
(Above: Luc the shepherd.)
(Above: The Battle of Blenheim Monument. )
When you first enter the palace you learn that there are 2 distinct stories to be told. On your left you learn of the palace's great history, art, sexual intrigue, and it's all told through The Untold Story exhibition which is an 30 minute interactive theatrical show. Think "It's a Small World After All"ride at Disney on a royal-palacey scale. Really...it was super cool! We got the chance to learn all about the palace in a very interactive way.
To the right, you learn about the life of Sir Winston Churchill because the wonderful man was born in this gorgeous place. This is a fabulous walk-thru exhibit showcasing glimpses of his childhood and how he came to be the man we all know. My personal favorite was a small collection of his artwork in which he painted. Churchill dabbled in art as a hobby and it was very exciting to actually be able to stand in front of his works. Kind of like getting to glimpse a softer side of such a larger than life character in history.
(Above: Entry hall of the palace.)
(Above: The great Sir Winston Churchill.)
(Above: A small collection of Sir Winston Churchill's masterpieces.)
1) Make sure to plan an entire day! Blenheim is much more than just a palace. Tour the palace, but be sure to take enough time to tour the gardens and grounds, have tea outside, and visit the Blenheim monument.
2) Take good walking shoes, as there is a fair amount of walking and sheep like to leave goodies for you to step in on the grounds.
3) Pack a picnic or eat at the cafe in the palace. Either way, definitely have a glass of champagne or prosecco because when you're in a palace...live like the royals!