When my mom came to visit me in Oxford we decided to get out of town one morning and take a short trip to the nearby Blenheim Palace. Countless travel guides and fellow students had recommended that I visit this remarkable landmark, but I had never had the time due to work and scheduling conflicts. What better time to do it than during my sprawling five-week spring break, especially with my mom?
Blenheim Palace is located in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, which is about a 20-30 minute bus ride from the Gloucester Green bus station near the center of Oxford. The palace was built between 1705 and 1722 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. It is home to the Dukes of Marlborough but is perhaps most famous today for being the birthplace of Winston Churchill, to whom an entire exhibit is dedicated inside the palace. Today the palace is open to visitors (albeit for a quite expensive fee) and is a careful blend of home and business. Often it is used for filming, such as with the 2008 television series Young Victoria and scenes from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007). The surrounding gardens are also open to the public to stroll through, with many winding paths and small footbridges to traverse.
I had never taken a regular city bus before in Oxford, so I was a little worried about timing and figuring out where to get on and off. However, everything went incredibly smoothly and left me wondering why I waited so long to do it in the first place. The S3 bus from Gloucester Green drops you off within sight of the palace gates, making it easy to come and go. The timing was reliable and the determining which stops to use was quite easy. I would highly recommend this way of getting there if you’re ever in Oxford!
Blenheim Palace is absolutely gorgeous, both inside and out. At first I wasn’t sure how many rooms inside the palace we would actually be allowed to walk through, but seeing everything actually took us much longer than I initially expected. We walked through sitting rooms, meeting rooms, dining rooms, the enormous library (my personal favorite!), long corridors and even a surprisingly large Winston Churchill exhibition. There are artifacts and old photos everywhere you look along the way, making the journey slow but certainly worth while. I knew practically nothing about Blenheim Palace before visiting other than a vague idea of its association with Winston Churchill; however, the exhibits are so informative that I left feeling like I could teach someone else about the history of this beautiful place fairly easily. I also loved how you didn’t necessarily need a guided tour in order to get a lot out of your visit to Blenheim Palace; a self-led tour suited my mom and I just fine.
While I loved perusing the inside of the palace, my favorite part of our visit was definitely walking around the grounds. The landscape is so beautiful that it almost feels like you’re walking through a fairy tale! Despite the fairly cloudy weather (and looming possibility of rain!) we managed to walk all over the grounds, past countless hedges, statues, and quaint little spots to rest on cute little benches. There is a path that leads you on a lovely walk by the lake and even a small waterfall next to an adorable little building that my mom and I took photos at for ages. I can only imagine how beautiful the grounds are when the sun is shining and flowers are in full bloom! We were able to walk through the inside of the palace and around the surrounding grounds in just a few hours, meaning that we were back in Oxford by the afternoon.
I’m so glad we decided to take a short journey over to Blenheim Palace–what a hidden gem! If you’re ever in the area and are looking for something with a bit more nature than the city has to offer, definitely check out Blenheim Palace.
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Have you ever been to Blenheim Palace? What are some places you’ve been to that feel too much like a fairy tale to be real? Let me know in the comments section below!