DISCOVER BLENHEIM PALACE
A ROYAL VISIT
If you’re staying in Woodstock, a visit to Blenheim Palace must be at the top of your ‘to do’ list and as guests at the Bear, you’re literally minutes away from entering the magnificent world of the Churchills.
Originally a modest royal residence where, before her succession to the throne, Elizabeth 1st was imprisoned by her half-sister Mary, the subsequently ruined manor and park at Woodstock were gifted by Queen Ann to John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, as a token of appreciation from a grateful monarch for his victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704.
Churchill was given funds to build a country house that was a fitting commemoration of his achievement and work began in 1705.
Iconic Baroque Design
Lovers of architecture will appreciate the design by John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor, two of England’s most celebrated architects, which is recognised as the finest example of truly Baroque architecture in the country.
The landscape, set out by Vanbrugh, is also highly acclaimed although it is the modifications by Lancelot ‘Capability` Brown in his informal, pastoral style – including the ingenious creation of two lakes – that have captured the imagination.
The house was completed in 1722 and has remained the home of the Churchill family for 300 years.
Pivotal Wartime Role
Two World Wars put gave the Palace a new purpose: a convalescence hospital for wounded soldiers during World War 1, a temporary dorm for 400 pupils evacuated from Malvern College during World War 2 and later, a base for MI5 and a ‘home` for the Home Guard, with the lake used for preparation for the D-Day landings.
Blenheim Palace opened its doors to the general public in 1950 and has attracted millions of visitors since then. It was designated as Grade 1 listed and achieved UNESCO World Heritage Status in 1987. Today, it is the home of the 12th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough but its most notable resident was Winston Churchill, who was born there on 30th November 1874.
Journey Through Time
One of the many reasons to visit Blenheim Palace is the antique collection – one of the finest in Europe – but the deep sense of history, the beauty of the architecture, the sublime gardens and of course, the Churchill connection, are all equally compelling.
If you are interested in following the story of Winston Churchill to its conclusion, you’ll find his resting place at St Martin’s Church in Bladon, just a couple of miles from Woodstock.
Although his state funeral service was held at St Pauls Cathedral and attended by 3,000 people, it was his own decision to be buried quietly in Bladon, a small village close to his birthplace.
He is buried with his wife, Clementine Ogilvy Spencer Churchill, and nearby are the graves of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill, his mother, Jennie Jerome, his brother, Jack, and three of his children, Sarah, Diana and Randolph.