Blog > Blenheim Palace: The Birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill

May 16, 2014

If while you are at Safestay Hostel and would like to visit one of the most spectacular buildings in all of England, one might consider Blenheim Palace. It is the only structure in Britain that is considered a palace although it is neither royal nor has a religious purpose. It has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1987. The site is 105 kilometers (65 miles) Northwest of London and is well worth taking a look at if your schedule permits. There is more then enough to see at Blenheim for you to spend the entire day there.

You have several options on how to arrive to Blenheim Palace. You can either go by car or public transport and you will also need to decide if you wish to be part of a tour. Tours leave London on a regular basis by bus. If you make the decision to drive there because you have access to a car there are two routes that you can choose from. The shortest route is explained below. The travel time will be about 1 hour and 25 minutes and the total distance will be 108 kilometers (67.4 miles).

The shortest car route will have you heading west (to the left of the main Safestay entrance) on Walworth Road to Newington Butts/A3. You will then make a right onto Elephant and Castle A3. Keep left to continue to St. Georges Rd/A201/A302. It is important to remember that the trip will involve tolls. Turn left onto Lambeth Rd/A3203 at the roundabout take the first exit onto Millbank/A3212. You will continue onto Cheyne Walk/A3220 turning left onto W Cromwell Rd/A4. From there at the roundabout, take the 3rd exit onto Hogarth Ln/A4. Continue onto M4 at junction 4B, take the M25 S exit to M3/M23/Heathrow Airport/Gatwick Airport. You will keep right at the fork following signs for M25 N/M40/M1/Oxford/Watford. Make a slight left onto M25 and at junction 16, take the M40 West exit to B'ham/Oxford. You will then merge onto M40. At Junction 8, take the A40 exit to Oxford/Cheltenham. Merge onto A40 and continue until the 4th exit onto Woodstock Rd/A44. Go through 6 roundabouts about 8.5 kilometers (5.3 miles), turn left your destination will be on the right.

Blenheim_Palace_Grand_Bridge.jpg

By bus the trip will take you a total of 2 hours and 30 minutes. Since the time involved is extensive this writer would recommend that you start early. Bus service begins at 6:00 am and ends at 21:00 (9:00 pm) every 30 minutes.

The service is available Monday through Saturday.

Upon leaving Safestay head left towards Elephant and Castle. Upon arrival there take the 2nd entrance. Take the Bakerloo towards Harrow & Wealdstone. There will be 10 stops in about 18 minutes. At Paddington take Entrance 2. From there you will need to buy a train ticket at First Great Western.

It is recommended you buy all the train tickets you will need on line at thetrainline.com once you have decided when you wish to go. The London Paddington to Penzance will take you 24 minutes with 1 stop. The stop ID will be PAD. From there you will purchase tickets at CrossCountry for the Southampton Central to Newcastle. It will take you 24 minutes with 1 stop the ID will be RDG. At Oxford you will need to purchase tickets again at CrossCountry. From the Railway Station in Oxford you will need to take a bus to your destination. There will be numerous stops and it could easily take an hour to make it to Blenheim Palace.

I go through both options with you carefully because I am actually recommending that the best way to visit the palace and grounds is to arrange a tour with a reputable company. You can then go by bus or even in a private car if you wish.

Prices will vary with the season and with whatever extra amenities and sites you may wish to add to your trip. Trips of this sort will take at least 8 to 10 hours so plan on spending the entire day out and about.

Blenheim_Palace_south_2013_cropped.jpg

The Palace at Blenheim is one of England's largest houses and was built between 1705 and 1722 for the First Duke of Marlborough. The construction of this spectacular building was built originally as a gift to the Duke (John Churchill) in recognition of his military triumph at the Battle of Blenheim against Bavaria and the French. The residence itself is built in the rare and ornate English Baroque style. This style of building did not last very long in England.

The site became the home of the Churchill family for the next 300 years. One of the most noteworthy aspects of the Palace is that it served as the birthplace of the famous British Prime Minster Sir Winston Churchill.

Over the next 3 centuries after construction, changes took place in the interiors of the building as well as the surrounding park and gardens. At the end of the 19th century Blenheim was in a state of disrepair and was becoming too costly to maintain. The Palace was saved from ruin by funds acquired through the marriage of the 9th Duke of Marlborough to Consuelo Vanderbilt, an American railroad heiress. As a result, the exterior of the palace was able to remain in good repair.

Blenheim_Palace_panorama.jpg

Today the Blenheim Palace is unique in its role as a mausoleum and national monument, as well a ancestral family home.
'
The 11th Duke of Marlborough is a part time residence with his family. They still occupy some of the same rooms as the previous family members have in the past.

The Palace is open daily from February 15th to November 2nd 2014. For the winter season the Palace is only open from Wednesday through Sunday. The Palace itself is open from 10:30 am – 17:30 (5:30 pm). Last admission is 16:45. The Formal Gardens are open from 10:00 am to 17:30. The Park is open daily (except Christmas Day) from 9:00 am to 18:00 or dusk (last admission is 16:45). All areas need to be vacated by 18:30. The Pleasure Gardens are in operation from 10:00 am to 18:00. Finally, the Adventure Playground is open daily except in icy conditions.

The price for admission for adults is 21.50 GBP (British pounds), $36.43 USD (United States Dollar) 26.29 EUR (Euros). Rates for children are 11.80 GBP with concessions priced at 17.00 GBP. Family rates are available for 57.00 GBP. If you wish to just purchase a ticket for the Park and Gardens alone prices are 12.50 GBP for adults, 9:30 GBP for concessions, and children for 6.50 GBP. A family package is available for 33.00 GBP. Annual passes are also available if you are going to be in the United Kingdom for an extended stay.

It is important to note that the family does not receive any external funding support at present, despite the extensive ongoing restoration and conservation work.

Blenheim_Palace_Terrace.jpg

Your visit to the interior of the Palace begins with the impressive Great Hall entering through arresting wooden doors, and allows an exploration of the intricate and beautifully furnished State Rooms. The architecture is quite complex and attractive on a grand scale with ornate ceilings and walls along with prominent stone work. You will experience a collection of wonderful portraits, tapestries, works of art and furniture that are historical as well as beautiful.

Must sees include the porcelain displays in the China Ante Room and the famous Blenheim Tapestry that hangs in the Green Writing Room. You should also make sure to see the Long Library that contains a captivating statue of Queen Anne and on the opposite end the famous Willis Organ.

You are free to walk through the Palace at your own pace and guides are on hand to ask questions if you have them. If you wish to join a tour they begin every 20 minutes or so and are included in your admission price.

The grounds surrounding the Palace are quite impressive by themselves. There is a huge 70 hectare (150 acre) lake on the property. The Formal Gardens commissioned by the 9th Duke in the 19th century include the Italian Garden, The Water Terraces, and The Secret Garden.

The Pleasure Gardens contain a giant organic maze, a miniature train and a tropical butterfly house.

Blenheim_Palace_England.jpg

At the end of your visit you may wish to just walk through and enjoy the vast landscaped park designed by Capability Brown in the 1760s. Make sure to see the famous landmarks like the Grand Bridge and the Column of Victory.

The tourist site does include a number of places to dine as well. The Oxford Pantry is for coffee and something light to eat. You can lunch at the Water Terrace Cafe or the Pleasure Garden Cafe. You can have an elegant Champagne lunch or Afternoon Tea in the Indian Room. Sunday lunch can be taken in the Orangery but is only served there once a month. Finally, if you would just like to enjoy some refreshments particularly champagne, they can be had at the Champagne Bar.

Blenheim Palace also has 4 gift shops if you have the time and inclination. These would include The East Courtyard Shop that contains gifts and souvenirs unique to the Palace. The World War I Exhibition Shop specializing in the time period memorabilia. The Children's Shop is known for its toys and treats and the Postal Shopping Service for online purchasing and shipping.

One can easily spend an entire day at Blenheim Palace alone, so if you are considering a tour of the area you might want to keep that in mind.