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Set in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, Blenheim Palace is considered to be one of the finest baroque houses in the country. It was a gift from Queen Anne and a grateful nation to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, in recognition of his famous victory over the French at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704.
It is now the home of the 11th Duke of Marlborough and is lived in and cared for by the family for whom it was built. Inside the Palace can be found a superb collection of tapestries, paintings, porcelain and furniture in the magnificent State Rooms. Sir Winston Churchill was born in the Palace in 1874 and a permanent exhibition about him is located next to his birth room – both are included in the Palace tour. Sir Winston loved Blenheim and, as a member of the family, was a frequent visitor during his long life. He is buried in a simple grave in the nearby church at Bladon.
A separate exhibition, ‘Churchills’ Destiny – the story of two great war leaders’, celebrates the achievements of Winston and his great hero and ancestor, John Churchill. A State-of-the-art visitor experience is open in the heart of the Palace called ‘Blenheim Palace: the Untold Story’. Dramatic moments from the last 300 years of history at Blenheim Palace are brought to life through animatronic figures and innovative film and projection technology, seen through the eyes of the servants.
Surrounding the Palace are over 2,000 acres of beautiful ‘Capability Brown’ parkland, lakes, fountains and formal gardens, including the recently restored ‘Secret Garden’, the Italian Garden, the Water Terraces, Rose Garden and Cascade. A miniature train, a great favourite with all ages, connects the Palace to the Pleasure Gardens, where, amongst a range of fun activities for children, can be found the Marlborough Maze, the Butterfly House, the Lavender Garden and ‘Blenheim Bygones’ exhibition.
A very busy events programme is on offer throughout the year, including jousting tournaments, half-term costumed entertainment, evening concerts and the Palace dressed for Christmas.
Distance: 15.4 miles (24.8 Km)