Blenheim Palace: Prim on the Outside, Lavish on the Inside

Larger Than Life: Art that inspires us through the ages
December 12, 2020 Updated: December 15, 2020

England’s national treasure Blenheim Palace, in Woodstock, Oxfordshire—the birthplace and ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill—is a fine example of the short-lived English Baroque style of architecture.

Blenheim Palace
The north gate of Blenheim Palace. (Blenheim Palace)
Blenheim Palace
The entrance to Blenheim Palace. (Blenheim Palace)

English Baroque wasn’t as outwardly flamboyant as European Baroque. The exteriors of English buildings were made of limestone and slate; they were decorated conservatively and adorned with classical figures, column shells, and pilasters. But inside, the highly ornate and decorative interiors are similar to those seen in French palaces.

Blenheim Palace
The opulent State Rooms of Blenheim Palace. (Blenheim Palace)
Blenheim Palace
The second State Room of Blenheim Palace. (Blenheim Palace)

Despite its magnificent appearance and its being called a “palace,” Blenheim Palace has never been home to royalty and is the only English country house to be called a palace.

In 1704, the nation of England honored John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough, with a gift of land for his military triumphs over the French and Bavarian troops in the War of the Spanish Succession.

Dramatist and self-taught architect John Vanbrugh (with the assistance of notable architect Nicholas Hawksmoor) designed the country house. The building of Blenheim Palace, named after the Battle of Blenheim in Bavaria, began in 1705 and was completed in 1722.  

In 1761, renowned English landscape designer Lancelot “Capability” Brown, known as “England’s Greatest Gardener,” modified and redesigned Blenheim Palace’s park, which is enclosed by the palace walls. Brown’s park is considered “a naturalistic Versailles.”

Blenheim Palace
An aerial view of Blenheim Palace at Woodstock, in Oxfordshire, England. (Blenheim Palace)
Blenheim Palace
An aerial view of Blenheim Palace at Woodstock, in Oxfordshire, England. (Blenheim Palace)

Blenheim Palace and Park greatly influenced the English Romantic movement “characterized by the eclecticism of its inspiration, its return to natural sources, and its love of nature,” according to the World Heritage website. 

Blenheim Palace
The Temple of Diana at Blenheim Palace, where Sir Winston Churchill famously proposed to his future wife, Clementine Hozier. (Blenheim Palace)
Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace’s East Clock Tower. (Blenheim Palace)
Blenheim Palace
The painted ceiling of Blenheim Palace’s Great Hall by English painter James Thornhill depicts the Duke of Marlborough presenting the plan for the Battle of Blenheim to Britannia, the personification of Britain. (Blenheim Palace)
Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace’s Long Library, with its Willis organ, houses over 10,000 books. (Blenheim Palace)
Blenheim Palace
Christmas decorations add even more opulence to the murals that French decorative painter Louis Laguerre painted in Blenheim Palace’s Saloon. (Blenheim Palace)
Epoch Times Photo
(Blenheim Palace)
Epoch Times Photo
(Blenheim Palace)
Epoch Times Photo
(Blenheim Palace)
Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace’s magical Christmas lights. (Blenheim Palace)