Blenheim Palace
History

The History of Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace was built in the early 18th Century to celebrate victory over the French in the War of the Spanish Succession.

In particular, it was built as a gift to the 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, the military commander who led the Allied forces in the Battle of Blenheim on 13th August 1704. Marlborough himself received the surrender from Marshall Tallard, leader of the French forces, following the battle.

To honour the Duke’s heroic victories, Queen Anne granted his family the ruined Royal Manor and park at Woodstock, along with £240,000 with which to build a house to mark the occasion.

Below is a historical timeline highlighting the key milestones in the history of Blenheim Palace.

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The History of Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace was built in the early 18th Century to celebrate victory over the French in the War of the Spanish Succession.

In particular, it was built as a gift to the 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, the military commander who led the Allied forces in the Battle of Blenheim on 13th August 1704. Marlborough himself received the surrender from Marshall Tallard, leader of the French forces, following the battle.

To honour the Duke’s heroic victories, Queen Anne granted his family the ruined Royal Manor and park at Woodstock, along with £240,000 with which to build a house to mark the occasion.

Below is a historical timeline highlighting the key milestones in the history of Blenheim Palace.

Book your visit

 

13th August 1704

The Battle of Blenheim was won, led by John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough. He was given the Park, Woodstock Manor, and £240,000 to build the Palace as a gift from Queen Anne and a grateful nation.

13th August 1704
1705 – 1733

1705 – 1733

Blenheim Palace was built, designed by Sir John Vanbrugh. Despite an inscription on the Palace wall stating that it was built between 1705 and 1722, the Chapel (the last part of the Palace to be built) was not consecrated until 1733, 11 years after the death of the 1st Duke.

“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us...” 

Sir Winston Churchill

1727 – 1730

1727 – 1730

The Column of Victory was built in the northern part of the Park and stands at 134 feet high. It is crowned by a lead statue of the 1st Duke of Marlborough which depicts him dressed as a Roman general.

1773

The Temple of Diana was designed and built by Sir William Chambers. It was intended to be a small summer house.

1773
1764 – 1774

1764 – 1774

Landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was commissioned to re-landscape the more than 2000 acres of surrounding Parkland.

“As we passed through the entrance archway and the lovely scenery burst upon me, Randolph said with pardonable pride, ‘this is the finest view in England.’ Looking at the lake, the bridge, the miles of magnificent park studded with old oaks, I found no adequate words to express my admiration and when we reached the huge stately Palace, I confess I felt awed.” 

Lady Randolph Churchill, 1874.

1789

1789

The Temple of Health was built. This Corinthian temple was designed by John Yenn and celebrated George III's recovery from illness.

30th November 1874

Sir Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace.

View the Winston Churchill timeline

30th November 1874
1888

1888

The Boat House was built for the 8th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough.

An inscription on the Boat House chosen by the 8th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough reads; 

‘So may thy craft glide gently on as years row down the stream’.

1891

1891

The Willis Organ was built, positioned in the central bay of the Long Library. The organ was later moved to the North end of the Library in 1902.

The plaque on the front of the organ reads: ‘In memory of happy days and as a tribute to this glorious home we leave thy voice to speak within these walls in years to come when ours are still.’ MM & LM (The 8th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough)

 

1900 – 1910

1900 – 1910

The 9th Duke of Marlborough commissioned landscape architect Achille Duchêne to restore the three-acre forecourt (Great Court) from grass to cobbles and gravel. During this period Duchêne also created an Italian Garden to adorn the East front of the Palace.

11th August 1908

Sir Winston Churchill proposed to Clementine Hozier in the Temple of Diana.

11th August 1908

"At Blenheim I took two very important decisions; to be born and to marry. I am content with the decision I took on both occasions..." Sir Winston Churchill

 

1914

Blenheim Palace was used as a convalescence hospital for wounded soldiers during WWI.

1914
1925 – 1930

1925 – 1930

The 9th Duke commissioned Achille Duchêne to build the Water Terraces.

1939 – 1940

Over 400 Malvern College boys were evacuated to Blenheim Palace during WWII.

1939 – 1940
1st April 1950

1st April 1950

Blenheim Palace opened its doors to the general public for the first time.

27th August 1957

Blenheim Palace was designated a Grade I listed building.

27th August 1957
24th January 1965

24th January 1965

Sir Winston Churchill died and was buried at St Martin’s Church, Bladon.

1987

Blenheim Palace was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

1987
2012

2012

The newly restored East Courtyard Visitor Centre, Shop and Oxfordshire Pantry was officially opened by the Rt Honourable David Cameron, Prime Minister and His Grace the 11th Duke of Marlborough. 


Woodstock, Oxfordshire OX20 1PS

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