One of the most opulent and majestic looking buildings in the whole of the UK, Blenheim Palace is often thought to be the inspiration for TV’s ‘Downton Abbey’ – and it really shows. However, there is more to the palace than just fancy, ornate flourishes. It’s likely to be a location you’ve seen many times before but might not know the name of!
Therefore, here’s some interesting facts about Blenheim Palace to help break things down for you – and who knows – you might even be inspired to go and pay a visit. Or, at the very least, it might be time to start binging Downton Abbey again…
- Blenheim Palace dates back to the 1700s and was actually brought to life in celebration of the British reigning victorious in the War of Spanish Succession. It was originally in possession of John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough.
- Recognise the name? You should – perhaps the most famous Churchill in history – Winston Churchill – was actually born at Blenheim Palace. Who would know he’d go on to lead the British as part of the Allied defence against Nazi Germany in the mid-20th century?
- The palace was actually built following a gift from then-reigning Queen Anne to the Churchills. It was originally the site of manor ruins, eventually redesigned and brought to incredible life as a baroque masterpiece.
- There are more than 1,000 windows in the palace, which bring light into more than 200 different rooms.
- Blenheim Palace is a retreat with something of a unique distinction. Palaces, by very definition, tend to be connected to the Episcopal church, or at least to royalty – and it’s the only establishment called ‘palace’ in England to have connections to neither.
- The palace only started welcoming members of the public from 1950 onwards. To this day, you’re able to take tours of specific areas of the property. It’s still home to the current Duke and Duchess of Marlborough.
- The palace has something of an incredible library – if you ever fancy taking a spot of reading in, you’ll have a choice of around 10,000 different tomes.
- The palace is well-known for being the site of some truly fantastic festivals and displays. Perhaps one of the most famous and well-celebrated of these is the jousting tournament, which takes place across the summer months each year. As you might imagine, it is here where attendees will be able to try and knock each other off using poles while riding horses! It’s a fantastic throwback to times of yore, and perhaps something you’d only normally see in TV shows and movies. We don’t remember seeing a tournament like this in Downton Abbey, though…
- Blenheim Palace has such an important place in the historical landscape that it’s actually a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s held this status since 1987.
- Believe it or not, the palace also used to play host to a school for boys back in the early 20th Century. However, this was eventually split off during the Second World War.
- In fact, it was even used as a makeshift hospital of sorts – as soldiers were treated here for emergencies during the First World War. Therefore, it’s safe to say the palace and its people have played their part in the conflicts.
- Traditionally, servants at the palace would have smaller windows for their quarters than the Duke, Duchess and family would benefit from elsewhere.
- If you recognise Blenheim Palace at all, it’s not just thanks to the fact that it’s the ‘real life Downton Abbey’ – but that it’s been a popular filming location for plenty of big productions. For example, you’ll likely have seen Black Beauty, James Bond and Harry Potter all benefitting from this stunning location.
- It’s thought that King Henry I once used the adjoining Woodstock estate to house wild animals, specifically, he kept a park replete with lions and other big cats!
- Blenheim Palace was never actually intended to be a home fit to live in – it was only ever meant to be a monument for a military victory. That’s why, at least during its formative years, it wasn’t the most comfortable of properties to stay in!
- Beginning in 1763 and taking around 10 years, Capability Brown landscaped the grounds of Blenheim Palace, creating a huge 40 acre lake, planting trees, and creating drives.
Do you have any interesting facts about Blenheim Palace that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!
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