Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace

Location: Woodstock, Oxfordshite Map

Tel. 08700- 602 080
Palace and gardens: Open: 10:30am- 5:30pm daily mid- Feb- mid- Dec
Closed: Nov & Dec: Mon & Tue
Park is open 9am -5pm daily


Description of Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is a monumental English country house located in Woodstock in Oxfordshire, England. It is the only non-Episcopal or royal residence in England to qualify for the title of "Palace". It was built between 1705 and 1722 and is one of the largest in the country.

The building was originally a gift to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, from the English nation as a reward for his military victories against France during the War of the Spanish Succession. The palace soon became the center of political intrigue also due to the fact that it was mostly financed by the English state. Tensions at court and in government caused Marlborough's exile for some years, the disgrace of his wife the Duchess, and irreparable damage to the reputation of the architect John Vanbrugh.

Conceived in a very rare English Baroque style, the Palace is much more appreciated today than at the time of its construction where the duchess herself harshly criticized the project. It is clearly inspired by the Palladian project of Villa Trissino in Meledo. Its particularity is that since its origin the Palace was a combination of family residence, mausoleum and national monument. Following its completion, the Palace remained the residence of the Churchills and then the Spencer-Churchills for the next three centuries, with internal changes made by each of the various members of the family, as well as to the grounds and gardens. At the end of the 19th century the palace was saved from certain ruin thanks to the marriage of the 9th Duke of Marlborough to the wealthy American heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt. It is also remembered as the birthplace and first residence of Winston Churchill.

Since 1987 the Palace has been included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.



The Churchills

John Churchill was born in Devon. Although his family had ties to the aristocracy, he belonged to the gentry of the seventeenth century. In 1678, Churchill married Sarah Jennings, and in April of that same year he was sent by Charles II to The Hague to negotiate a convention for the development of the deployment of English armies in Flanders. The mission failed. In May of that same year, Churchill was temporarily appointed Brigadier General of the Infantry, but the possibility of a continental military campaign was ended with the Peace of Nijmegen. When Churchill returned to England, the Popish Plot resulted in a three-year ban on James Stuart, Duke of York. The duke forced Churchill to wait for him, first in The Hague and then in Brussels. For his services during the crisis, Churchill was created Lord Churchill of Eyemouth in the Peerage of Scotland in 1682, and was made Colonel of the King's Own Royal Regiment of Dragoons the following year.

On the death of Charles II in 1685, his brother the Duke of York became King James II. With James's succession, Churchill was appointed governor of the Hudson's Bay Company. He was also made Gentleman of the Bedchamber in April of that year, being admitted as Baron Churchill of Sandridge in the Peerage of England in the county of Hertfordshire. Following the Monmouth Rebellion, Churchill was promoted to major general and obtained the wealthy position of Third Troop of the Life Guards. When William, Prince of Orange invaded England in November 1688, Churchill, accompanied by 400 men and officers, joined him at Axminster. When the king saw that he could no longer count on Churchill's trust, he was forced into exile in France. As part of William III's coronation celebrations, Churchill was created Earl of Marlborough, as well as being admitted to the Privy Council.

During the War of the Spanish Succession Churchill gained a reputation as a capable military commander and in 1702 was elevated to the title of Duke of Marlborough. During the war he was able to score a number of victories including those at the Battle of Blenheim (1704), the Battle of Ramillies (1706), the Battle of Oudenarde (1708) and the Battle of Malplaquet (1709). For his victory at Blenheim, the Crown granted the Duke of Marlborough the royal estate and manor of Hensington where he built a new palace.

The wife of the Duke of Marlborough was also a capable and very charming woman: she was a friend of the young Princess Anne and later, when she became queen, the Duchess of Marlborough, as Her Majesty's Mistress of the Robes, exerted great influence on the sovereign both personally and politically. Relations between the queen and the duchess, however, became increasingly contrasted until 1711 when the sovereign burst out due to the constant requests for money that the duke of Marlborough obtained from parliament for the construction of his luxurious residence, indicating them as "recognition of the state " for his military work. For political reasons, the Marlboroughs were exiled to the Continent and were able to return to England the day after the Queen's death on 1 August 1714.



«... as soon as we entered the entrance arch, one of the most beautiful scenes ever seen appeared before me and Randolph said to me: "But this is one of the most beautiful views in England!"»
(Lady Randolph Churchill)

On the death of the 1st Duke in 1722, both of his sons having predeceased him, he was succeeded by his daughter Henrietta. This unusual succession for the time required a special Act of Parliament, since only sons could usually assume the dukedom. When Henrietta died, the title passed to the Marlborough's nephew, Charles Spencer, Earl of Sunderland, whose mother was the Duke of Marlborough's second daughter, Anne.

The 1st Duke as a soldier was never a wealthy man and the fortune in his possession was largely used to finish the construction of his palace. Compared to other English ducal families, the Marlboroughs had early on experienced financial problems, but it was the 5th Duke of Marlborough (1766–1840) who greatly squandered what remained of the family fortune. He was forced to sell all the other family homes, but Blenheim escaped foreclosures. This did not prevent the Duke of Marlborough from selling his Boccaccios for just £875, and his library in 4,000 lots. Upon his death in 1840, he left the family in complete financial disarray.

As late as the 1870s the financial situation of the dukes was very bad and in 1875 the 7th Duke sold the Marriage of Cupid and Psyche together with the famous Marlborough gems at auction for £10,000. Even this, however, was not enough to save the fortunes of the family and once again Blenheim was squandered in his library. In 1880 the 7th Duke was forced to ask parliament for permission to sell part of the fortunes of the villa (which was still intended as a national monument commemorating his ancestor) with the Blenheim Settled Estates Act of 1880. The first victim of this sale was the grandiose Sunderland Library which was dispersed from 1882, with such volumes as The Epistles of Horace, printed in Caen in 1480, and the Works of Joseph, printed in Verona in 1648. The library's 18,000 volumes brought in more than £60,000. Sales continued to squander the palace's fortune: Raphael's Ansidei Madonna sold for £70,000, Van Dyck's Portrait of Charles I on Horseback fetched £17,500, and finally a piece from the personal collection of Peter Paul Rubens, depicting Rubens , his wife Helena Fourment and their son Peter Paul, a painting donated by the city of Brussels to the 1st Duke in 1704, a work now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Even all this money still failed to cover the costs necessary to maintain the entire complex. In the 1870s the family's financial problems were compounded by the country's agricultural crisis. When the 9th Earl inherited the succession in 1892, the Spencer-Churchills were nearly bankrupt.


The 9th Duke of Marlborough

Charles Spencer-Churchill, 9th Duke of Marlborough (1871–1934) was the very savior of the fortunes of the palace and his family. Inheriting the dukedom from his father in 1892, on the verge of bankruptcy, he immediately tried to find a drastic solution to the problems that gripped his family. Shackled by the strict diktats of late 19th century society, the only solution left to him was to marry for money. In November 1896, coldly and without love, he married wealthy American heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt. The marriage was celebrated after long negotiations with her divorced parents: mother, Alva Vanderbilt, did not agree with the fact that her daughter would become a duchess, while her father, William Vanderbilt, was ambitious and wished to condescend to this possibility. The marriage was eventually concluded with a dowry of $2.5 million (approximately $62.000.000 in 2007 dollars) in 50.000 shares of Beech Creek Railway Company with a minimum of 4% guaranteed dividend of the New York Central Railroad Company. The couple also received $100,000 a year for life in family allowance. The marriage contract was signed in the sacristy of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, New York, immediately after the solemn vows of marriage. In the carriage leaving the church after the wedding, the Duke of Marlborough confessed to Consuelo that he was in love with another woman, and that he would never again return to America, where there was "nothing that was English." .

The furnishing of the building with the new funds began already during the honeymoon of the two with the purchase of new jewels, paintings and furniture which were bought in Europe to fill the now empty building. Upon their return the duke began a complete restoration of the palace. The reception rooms were redecorated with boiseries in imitation of those of the Palace of Versailles. During the refurbishment works, the rooms were moved to the upper floor, thus emptying the representative rooms of their original function. On the west terrace the landscape architect Achille Duchêne was employed to create a water garden. On the terrace below this were placed two large fountains in the style of Bernini, scale models of those present in Piazza Navona, made for the 1st Duke of Marlborough.

The palace service staff was increased to 40 attendants.
Blenheim once again became a place of wonder and prestige. Consuelo, however, was far from happy; many of her cynical comments were later reported in her posthumous biography, The Glitter and the Gold. In 1906 she shocked English respectable society by first leaving her husband, then divorcing permanently in 1921. She subsequently married the Frenchman Jacques Balsan. The Duchess died in 1964, having lived to see her son succeed as Duke of Marlborough and frequently returning to Blenheim, the home she had hated but she had helped save with her dowry.

After his divorce the duke remarried again to Consuelo's former friend, Gladys Deacon, another American. This gave further impetus to the structure, for example by decorating the lower terrace with sphinxes modeled by Gladys herself and then executed by W. Ward Willis in 1930. Before her marriage, even when she was already betrothed to the Duke of Marlborough, she received a ring of engagement from the young Crown Prince William of Germany, which created a diplomatic incident that led the secret services of the two empires to try to recover it. After her marriage, Gladys took to dining with her duke while holding a revolver by her side. The duke, now tired of his new wife, separated from her without ever officially divorcing. The duke died in 1934 and his second wife in 1977.

The 9th Duke was succeeded by his eldest son by Consuelo Vanderbilt, John, 10th Duke of Marlborough (1897–1972), who after eleven years of widowhood, at the age of 74 decided to marry (Frances) Laura Charteris, ex wife of the 2nd Viscount Long and the 3rd Earl of Dudley, and granddaughter of the 11th Earl of Wemyss. However, the marriage was short-lived: the duke died just six weeks later, on 11 March 1972. The duchess left Blenheim shortly after her husband's death due to the inhospitality of the place, as she wrote in her autobiography Laughter from a Cloud (1980), dying in London in 1990.


Today's use

The palace is still the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough, whose current representative is Charles James (Jamie) Spencer-Churchill, 12th Duke of Marlborough, who succeeded on his father's death on 16 October 2014.

Even today the Marlboroughs display a copy of the French royal flag on the top of the villa on the anniversary of the battle of Blenheim.

The palace, the park and the gardens are open to the public who can enter them for a fee (maximum £25.90). The attractions for tourists are kept separate from the pleasures of the garden of a large country house. The palace is connected to the gardens by a miniature railway, the Blenheim Park Railway. During the 20th and 21st centuries the changes to the villa have become essential to welcome visitors and bear the costs of maintaining the estate with the construction of a labyrinth, an adventure park, a mini-train, shops, a butterfly house, a fishing post, a café and even a bottling center for local natural mineral water, Blenheim Natural Mineral Water. In addition to all this, the villa hosts concerts and festivals that take place both in the building and in the surrounding park. Currently the estate is managed by Blenheim Visitors Ltd., at the head of which is the duke who oversees the administration of this property.

Lord Edward Spencer-Churchill, brother of the present duke, has organized a program of contemporary art exhibitions taking place in the palace, founding the Blenheim Art Foundation (BAF), a non-profit organization to present large-scale art exhibitions .

The state apartments are rented in the event of special paid weddings, rather than as in the past to the guests of the Spencer-Churchills, but the dukes continue to use them in any case for special occasions such as gala dinners or representation galas.



The area granted by the state to the Duke of Marlborough for the construction of his new palace was at the time occupied by a building called "Woodstock Palace" which was owned by the English Crown, but which in reality was little more than a deer park. Legend has left the story of the origins of this fort in obscurity, but we certainly know that King Henry I already delimited the park to welcome his deer. Henry II married his lover Rosamund Clifford there. This was the site of a hunting lodge rebuilt several times. Elizabeth I, before her accession to the throne, was imprisoned there with her half-sister Mary I from 1554 to 1555 following their involvement in the Wyatt Plot, but her imprisonment in Woodstock did not last long, and nothing more was heard of the castle. It was bombed and almost completely destroyed by Oliver Cromwell's troops during the English Civil War. When the Dukes of Marlborough obtained the site from the government, there were still some ruins of the structure that the architect Vanbrugh intended to preserve, restore and include in the new project, but the opinion of the Duchess prevailed and what remained of the manor it was completely destroyed to make room for the new building.

The choice of the architect for the realization of the ambitious project was a rather controversial fact for the time. The Duchess of Marlborough was known to favor Sir Christopher Wren, famous for his design of St Paul's Cathedral and other state structures. The duke, for his part, had already favored Sir John Vanbrugh by commissioning him for small jobs. Vanbrugh, inexperienced, often collaborated with the more practical Nicholas Hawksmoor, with whom he had recently completed the first floor of the Baroque Castle Howard, Yorkshire, one of the finest examples of Flamboyant Baroque in Europe. The Duke of Marlborough had seen this project, he was impressed by it and was willing to replicate everything in Woodstock.

For the Blenheim palace, however, a considerable amount of experience was needed which Vanbrugh did not have and for this reason he found no defenses or supports, not even obviously from the Duchess of Marlborough. Willing to support Wren, when her husband decided to propose her to Venbrugh she found all kinds of faults in Vanbrugh's work and way of working, from design to personal taste. The fact was controversial also because it was the English nation (which in fact hired the architect and paid the bills) who wanted to build a monument, while the duchess not only wanted a tribute to her husband but also a comfortable home, two requirements which were not compatible in 18th century architecture. In the early days of construction, however, the duke frequently found himself abroad fighting in military campaigns, leaving the duchess to negotiate with Vanbrugh. More attentive to the fact that the question of the construction of a monument to her husband had taken a different turn in parliament and not everyone was now so determined to finance the costs for the construction of her palace, the duchess tried to curb the grandiose project ideas of Vanbrugh arrogantly rather than explaining the motivations behind his frugality.

After the last confrontation with the Duchess, Vanbrugh was expelled from the residence. In 1719 however, while the duchess was away from her residence, Vanbrugh visited the palace in secret. He and his wife attempted to visit it with the Earl of Carlisle's retinue in 1725, but were denied access even to the park. The palace was then completed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, a friend of his and his architect.

As innovative as Vanbrugh's design was, his reputation was badly damaged by this design and he never received any more large commissions.


Construction financing

The precise responsibility for financing the new palace is a problem that has never been resolved by historians. The palace, intended as a reward for the valiant general Duke of Marlborough, was granted a few months after the battle of Blenheim, a period in which the figure of Marlborough had been particularly victorious. The English nation, grateful and led by its queen, intended to give its hero a suitable home, but the exact nature and size of this home was never defined. A decree dated 1705, signed by the treasurer of parliament, the Earl of Godolphin, appointed Vanbrugh as the architect in charge of the project. Unfortunately for the Churchills, neither the Queen nor the English Crown was mentioned in this decree. This error was later the clause by which many MPs declared the government's funding of the work invalid.

The Duke of Marlborough for his part contributed £60,000 towards the costs when the work began in 1705, a sum which together with what was promised by parliament, he would help build a monumental house. Parliament then voted on funds for the construction of Blenheim Palace, but no de facto sum was ever established nor was any expenditure established on the state budget. Queen Anne paid some of this necessary money, but with increasing reluctance, depending on her frequent clashes with the Duchess of Marlborough. After the last clash between the two in 1712, all state funds stopped reaching the construction site and the works stopped. £220,000 had already been spent and £45,000 was being paid to the workers. The Marlboroughs were forced into exile on the Continent and were unable to return to their homeland until the Queen's death in 1714.

Upon their return the duke and duchess were back in favor at court. The sixty-four-year-old duke now decided to complete the project at his own expense. In 1716 the works resumed but the project was changed on the basis of the availability of the duke himself. In 1717 however the duke had a very heavy heart attack and the duchess his wife took over the project. The Duchess lashed out at Vanbrugh over the rising costs and extravagance of the building, built to a design she had never appreciated. After a meeting with the Duchess, Vanbrugh angrily left the construction site, feeling that the workers the Duchess had employed were inferior to those he himself had hired for the job, and that the new workers were being paid far less than hers. The master stonemason he had sponsored, Grinling Gibbons, refused to work on the project for a price lower than that agreed at the start of the work. Craftsmen engaged by the Duchess, under the guidance of James Moore, and Vanbrugh's assistant architect, Hawksmoor, completed the work in perfect imitation of the master's initial design.

Following the duke's death in 1722, the completion of the palace and its grounds became the duchess' chief ambition. Vanbrugh's assistant, Hawksmoor, was recalled and in 1723 was commissioned to design the "Arch of Triumph", based on the forms of the Arch of Titus, as a monumental entrance to Woodstock Park. Hawksmoor also completed the interior designs for the library, the ceilings of many state rooms and other minor places. Underpaying the workers and using inferior materials, the Dowager Duchess completed the large house as a tribute to her late husband. The date of completion of the structure is unknown, but as late as 1735 the Duchess was debating the cost of a statue of Queen Anne to be placed in the palace library. In 1732 the duchess wrote again: "The chapel is finished and already half the tomb has been erected".


Project and architecture

Vanbrugh planned Blenheim in perspective, with the structure best seen from a distance. At the time the site covers an area of seven acres (28,000 m²).

The map of the main building block (corps de logis) is a rectangle interspersed with two internal courtyards; at the south facade are the state apartments; on the east side there are the private apartments of the duke and duchess, on the west side along the entire length of the main floor there is a long gallery intended as an exhibition of paintings from the family collection, but currently it is a library. The corps de logis is flanked by two further service blocks (not shown on the map). The east courtyard contains the kitchens, the laundry and other domestic blocks, the west one houses the chapel, the stables and an indoor riding arena. The three blocks together form the "Great Court" designed to amaze the visitor upon his arrival at the palace. The long colonnade and grandiose Renaissance-style statues refer to the external scenic layout of St. Peter's Basilica. Other statues in the guise of military trophies decorate the roofs, among which the most important is certainly the Britannia which is located above the entrance, with at its feet two chained French soldiers, sculpted in the style of Michelangelo,[22] and the English lion devouring in French rooster just under the roof. Many of these sculptures were made by masters such as Grinling Gibbons.

In 18th century house designs, comfort was subservient to magnificence, and this is certainly the case in Blenheim Palace where the idea was not only to make a house but also a national monument to reflect the power and civilization of the English nation. To create this monumental effect, Vanbrugh chose the Baroque and the use of stones to give the idea of solidity, but also to create an effect of light and shadow with the decorations.

The solid entrance porch on the north front compares the entrance to the pantheon. Vanbrugh also employed what he himself called his "castle in the air" which consisted of building low towers in each corner of the central block and then crowning them with grandiose belvederes decorated with curious and eccentric chimneys.

There are two approaches to the palace entrance, the first through the gate's direct passage to the Great Court; the other explains Vanbrugh's vision very well, from a distance, imagining the castle as a bastion or a citadel, a true monument and residence of a great leader. The east gate, with a monumental triumphal arch more Egyptian than Roman in style, is the only access in the great enfilade of the external wall which, just like the walls of an ancient city, closes the visitor's eye. In contrast to those who accused him of inexperience, Vanbrugh also built the palace aqueduct here. The viewer's view moves from the main entrance to the rest of the inner courtyard as in a temple towards the central sanctuary and this was precisely Vanbrugh's idea, to suggest the figure of the duke as that of a god.

This vision of the duke as omnipotent is also reflected inside the palace, whose axis is correlated to that of the park. Everything was carefully planned placing the palace as a real proscenium for the duke's position of honor in the main hall during official lunches.

The set of celebrations and honors of the victorious life of the duke began with the great Victory Column surmounted by his statue and with the details of his triumphs, placed on the central axis of the garden, with the plants placed in the position of troops at attention to line the avenue. The celebrations continue from the large portico in the hall whose ceiling is painted by James Thornhill with the apotheosis of the duke, and then with the presence of a large triumphal arch with the bust of the duke accompanied by the motto "Not even Augustus could have pacified the more 'humanity"), and in the central hall where the duke is represented on the throne.



The internal layout of the rooms in the central block of Blenheim Palace was defined by the court etiquette of the time. The state apartments were arranged with an increasing degree of importance towards the center and intended for the public use of guests at the palace. The most important room is certainly the central hall ("B" on the map) which was used as a solemn dining room. On each side of the hall are the state apartments, decreasing in importance and increasing in privacy: the first room ("C") served as an audience hall for receiving illustrious guests, the next room ("L") a private room, the next room ("M") a bedroom, therefore the most private room. One of the small rooms between the bedroom and the courtyard was intended as a personal dressing room. This arrangement is also present on the other side of the hall. The state apartments were reserved solely for welcoming the most illustrious guests to the palace such as a visiting ruler. In the left (east) part of the project map is an oriel hall ("O") where the private apartments of the duke and duchess were located.

Blenheim Palace was the birthplace of one of the 1st Duke's most famous descendants, Winston Churchill, whose life and works are commemorated by a permanent exhibition in the room where he was born ("K"). Blenheim Palace has a grand staircase leading to the main floor, but its size is not commensurate with the size of the building as a whole. James Thornhill painted the ceiling of the hall in 1716 with the Duke of Marlborough kneeling in front of Britannia offering a map of the battle of Blenheim. The lobby is a 20-metre-high room with sculptures by the Gibbons brothers.

The drawing room was also painted by Thornhill, but the duchess she suspected him of having exaggerated with the costs of the material and therefore the commission was reassigned to Louis Laguerre. This room presents examples of three-dimensional painting, or trompe l'oeil, a technique particularly fashionable at the time. The Treaty of Utrecht was about to be signed and therefore all the elements present are praising peace. The domed ceiling, for example, presents an allegorical representation of peace: John Churchill is aboard a chariot and carries a thunderbolt in his hands that represents war, while a woman represents peace. At the walls are allegories of all the nations of the world standing together peacefully. Laguerre represented himself in a self-portrait alongside Dean Jones, chaplain to the first duke, a well-known enemy of the duchess, who, however, tolerated him only for his skill at playing cards. Near the exit door, Laguerre is said to have represented figures attributable to French spies, distinguished by large eyes and ears, suitable for spying. Of the four coats of arms above the room, only one is the work of the Gibbons, while the other three are inferior copies made by the duchess's low-cost craftsmen.

The third most important room is certainly the large library designed by Christopher Wren, (H), 55 meters long, initially intended as a gallery for works of art. The ceiling has small domes, which should have been painted by Tornhill, but which the Duchess held back in their execution. The palace, and this room in particular, was adorned with various pieces of furniture and objects that the duke himself withdrew or seized as war booty in France, including a valuable collection of works of art. It was here in the library that the Duchess also erected a large statue of Queen Anne, patroness of the facility and a personal friend of hers.

Along the north wall of the library is a large pipe organ built by the renowned English organ firm Henry Willis & Sons in 1891 at a cost of £3669. It replaced an earlier organ built in 1888 by Isaac Abbott of Leeds, which was donated to St Swithun's Church, Hither Green. Originally intended to be placed in the central hall, it was moved to the library in 1902 with some improvements. The instrument did not undergo any alterations until 1930 when an automatic keyboard was added with 70 sheets of important organ pieces by Marcel Dupré, Joseph Bonnet, Alfred Hollins, Edwin Lemare and Harry Goss-Custard. It is said that the duke of the time had explicitly wanted to implement this system as he was unable to play the organ and loved to delight his guests with this trick, enjoying the applause at the end.



The palace chapel, after the duke's death, regained considerable importance in the field. The design was altered thanks to the Duke of Marlborough's friend, the Earl of Godolphin, who decided to propose moving the high altar to the west, so as to allow the figure of the duke's monumental tomb to dominate the church. Commissioned by the Duchess in 1730, the tomb was built to a design by William Kent, with statues representing the Duke and Duchess with the effigies of Cesare and Cesarina adorning the large marble sarcophagus. In a bas-relief at the base of the tomb, the Duchess ordered to depict the surrender of Marshal Tallard. However, the tomb was not completed until the duchess's death in 1744 when the duke's body was transferred from its temporary burial place, Westminster Abbey in London and together interred with his wife at Blenheim. With this move Blenheim had become a pantheon and a mausoleum. Successive dukes and their wives were also buried in this chapel, while other collateral members of the family were buried in St. Martin's Church at Bladon, a short distance from the palace.

The chapel also has an organ built in 1853 by Robert Postill of York: it is an example that has remained unchanged to this day.


Park and gardens

Blenheim Palace is located in the center of a large hilly park, a classic example of landscape for an English garden. When Vanbrugh took his first personal look at the area in 1704 he had an epiphany: the small river Glyme flowed in the park which formed a pond and Vanbrugh thought of crossing it with a stone bridge, channeling the entire course of the river. Against the opinion of Sir Christopher Wren, the work was completed with the construction of a bridge so colossal that it could have accommodated a total of 30 rooms, to the point that Alexander Pope wrote about it: "the little fish, when they pass between those vast arches, they murmur: 'oh, we look like whales, thank you Your Grace!'".

Horace Walpole saw it in 1760, and wrote: "the bridge, like poor wretches begging the duchess, begs the water and is refused it." [28] Much of the park was completed after the 1st Duke's death , including the Victory Column. It looks like a 41-metre-high pillar that stands in the center of the avenue leading to the building, flanked by trees placed like Marlborough's soldiers, lined up in the battle of Blenheim. Vanbrugh intended to have an obelisk erected to mark the site of Henry II's royal manor once, which led the 1st Duchess to say: "If there were obelisks for all that has been done by our sovereigns, the country would be invaded by such objects". The obelisk was never built.

On the death of the 1st Duke, his wife the Duchess concentrated much of her efforts on completing the palace and the park remained essentially the same until the intervention of Capability Brown in 1764. The 4th Duke employed Brown who immediately remodeled the garden according to the schemes of an English garden to naturalize the landscape, also reshaping the course of the river Glyme with a series of waterfalls. Brown's idea here was therefore to narrow the course of the river so as to be able to raise the water level as well, thus lowering the grandiose height of the bridge by submerging its lower parts. The V duke was responsible for garden whims still present in the park today.

Sir William Chambers, assisted by John Yenn, was responsible for the construction of the small cottage known as the 'Temple of Diana' where in 1908 Winston Churchill declared himself to his future wife.



The following films contain scenes filmed at Blenheim Palace:
The History of the World (1981)
His Majesty Is From Vegas (1991)
Hamlet (1996)
The Avengers (1998)
Entrapments (1999)
The Indian family (Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, 2001)
The Four Feathers (2002)
The Lost Prince (2003)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
The Young Victoria (2009)
Gulliver's Travels (2010)
A Little Chaos (2013)
Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015)
Specter (2015)
The Royals (2015)
The BFG: The Great Kind Giant (2016)