The sun alternated with a cloudy gloom, the kind of typical British spring weather of equal parts hope and dismay, on the day that we visited Blenheim Palace. The country home and expansive estate is just outside of Oxford, and a lovely place for a walk or a trip into history. You can find stately homes all across the UK, in different sizes and with different legacies, but this one, a grand UNESCO World Heritage sight is truly something special.
And I say that after only marching around the park. There are a few ways to see things here, depending on what you are interested in. Looking for history, art, and British tradition? Buy a ticket to the Palace. Want to take a walk in carefully manicured and pristine gardens? Buy a ‘Park and Gardens’ ticket. Alternatively, if you are looking to just wander in the Park, on the National footpaths, bypass the main gate, find a side entrance and skip paying altogether.
Being a cheapskate, I chose the latter option, although a look at the Palace Website has now convinced me that I should have possibly reconsidered.
The place struck me as a beautiful place, equal to Tsaritsna, although I wonder if it would ever be cold enough to cross-country ski on the lakes here. Unlike Katherine the Great’s Palace, this one has actually been inhabited, and not just rebuilt for tourism and historical reasons. The Palace boasts its importance as the birthplace of Winston Churchill, as well as the residence of the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. In accordance with this history, it has several tours, exhibitions and historical rooms to tell the story of the place, and to feature different art.
I think what impressed me so much about my visit to Blenheim Palace was that it felt like the traditional British countryside, condensed. You had the lakes, with little boats meandering around, the hills with geese and sheep, old trees, and man made monuments, art and architecture in one. And of course, you had the overpriced cafe offering tea and cakes, the sunshine warming everyone up, and the occasional ‘spot’ of rain.