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.
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.
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 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.