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Above and beyond

Our biggest project to date


Above and beyond

We are about to embark on a transformative journey to safeguard the heritage of Blenheim Palace for generations to come.

We are about to embark on a transformative journey to safeguard the heritage of Blenheim Palace for generations to come.

What is it?

This pivotal project is centred on restoring a significant section of the roof at Blenheim Palace, ensuring it remains resilient against the elements that threaten its historical integrity.

Commencing in January 2025 and costing around £12.5 million, this substantial project will take over 2 years to complete. Once finished, it will not only help secure the condition of this critical element of the UNESCO World Heritage Site for future generations to enjoy, but also protect the stunning artwork and historic fabric which rests within it.

Why is it important?

“This is a crucial new undertaking that we must deliver if we are to secure the future of wall and ceiling paintings of international importance, whilst also protecting the Palace from further damage. We're not just maintaining a structure; we're safeguarding a legacy.”

Kelly Whitton, Head of Built Heritage

The objectives of this project are multifaceted, each crucial for preserving the essence of Blenheim Palace.

  • Improve environmental stability of two internationally important ceiling paintings
  • Reduce health and safety risks from stone fall
  • Prolong the lifespan of stone by slowing the rate of decay
  • Complete outstanding fire compartmenting works in roof voids
  • Increase capacity of roof gutters to reduce further risk of water ingress
  • Improve energy efficiency where possible and practical

 

What are the current challenges?

A combination of age, (Blenheim Palace is over 300 years old), climate change and penetration from rainfall have led to the declining state of the roof, attic timbers and ceilings below.

The area of the roof in question - almost an acre in size - is only served by four downpipes; excess rains mean leaks are commonplace.

The Great Hall ceiling painting by Sir James Thornhill, describes the 1st Duke of Marlborough kneeling to Britannia, proffering a plan of his victory at Blenheim. This painting, already suffering from hairline cracks over much of the surface from structural movement, now has substantial rainwater damage and mould growth.

In the Saloon, roof leaks, smoke damage and dirt have also caused significant damage to the painting of the Battle of Blenheim by Louis Laguerre, where Peace is depicted physically restraining the Duke.

How has this happened?

Over its 300-year history, the Palace has weathered many storms, but the toll of time and environmental factors now necessitates urgent action.

Blenheim Palace first opened to the public in 1950 in order to fund extensive spot repairs to the central roof areas; primarily above the Great Hall and Saloon. These repairs are now at the end of their life.

Roofs are notoriously expensive to replace, notwithstanding access issues, the scale of Blenheim Palace and the impact to our visitors meaning that this project has been developed over a seven-year period.

How much will it cost?

Our current estimate is £12.5 million, with two-thirds privately funded by Blenheim Palace, however this exceeds our resources.

We are therefore seeking further support from a variety of trusts, foundations and individuals to bridge the current funding gap.

How can we help?

Join us in celebrating the restoration journey of Blenheim Palace by offering your support.

Your continued visits to our UNESCO World Heritage Site are invaluable, and if you’d like to know more about the project, or contribute further, please contact our Director of Philanthropy, Saira Uppal: suppal@blenheimpalace.com.

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