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Review: Blenheim Palace

Attraction - Historic house or stately home

Woodstock, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom

Blenheim Palace Gardens

  • By SilverTraveller ESW

    2256 reviews

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  • June 2016
  • Solo

49 people found this review helpful

Blenheim Palace is one of the Treasure Houses of Britain and is surrounded by equally stunning gardens. It sits in over 2000 acres of parkland which was landscaped by Capability Brown in the C18th. A network of footpaths gives access to the parkland.

Queen Anne gave John Churchill, First Duke of Marlborough the Royal Estate of Woodstock Manor with funding to build a splendid house as a reward from a grateful public for his victories in the Spanish wars of Succession. Vanburgh was chosen to design a Palace suitable for him, surrounded by extensive parkland. He was responsible for the bridge across the steep valley of the River Glyme.

The Fourth Duke asked Capability Brown to landscape the park. He was responsible for damming the river forming Queen’s Pool with its wooded islands and the Great Lake, separated by the now partially submerged bridge.

The banks of the Great Lake are wooded and tucked away on the north side is Rosamond’s Well. This has links with the Fair Rosamond, mistress of Henry II.

Capability Brown carefully hid the dam by building a cascade where the waters of the Great Lake tumble down carefully placed boulders to the slow flowing River Glyme. The delicate iron bridge was built for the Fifth Duke.

Close to the Cascade is the Arboretum which was planted by the Sixth Duke. The Ninth Duke continued the work of tree planting and planted 465,000 trees around the estate. It is now mature parkland with specimen trees with some ornamental beds with shrubs and flowering plants in the south lawn.

There is a lovely Wisteria arch near the Boathouse on the Great Lake.

The Temple of Diana and the Temple of Health were built in the C18th.

When the Ninth Duke succeeded to the title, the gardens on the east and west sides of the house were typical gloomy Victorian shrubberies. He commissioned the landscape architect Achille Duchêne to restore the Great Court from grass to cobbles and gravel and to create an Italian Garden on the East front of the Palace. This is a very formal garden of neatly clipped box hedges with planters containing brightly coloured flowering plants and a small fountain at the centre. The garden is private and can only be admired from the walkway.

These were followed by the Water Terraces on the west side of the house. This was a massive undertaking with water being pumped from Rosamond’s Well. The upper terrace has fountains and formally planted gardens with clipped box hedges. The lower terrace has two ponds with central obelisks.

The Secret Garden was designed as a private garden for the Tenth Duke but was left to go wild after his death. It has been recently restored and is now open to the public. It is a lovely garden surrounded by tall yew hedges and with winding paths, a small stream and ponds.

The Rose Garden has been restored by the present Duke and is surrounded by arched hoops with climbing roses. At the centre is a small stone statue.

The Pleasure gardens are in the old Walled Garden and are a fifteen minute walk from the Palace or can be reached in the miniature train. They still have a small working garden and a herb garden as well as the Marlborough Maze, putting green, giant chess set and a Butterfly house.

These are most attractive gardens and it is easy to spend several hours wandering round them. The park and gardens ticket is £14.90 or £10.90 for concessions and can be converted to an annual pass.

There are more pictures here.

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