• Places to go

Interesting facts about Blenheim Palace

By OS Team

Published on 5 min read


Learn about Blenheim Palace and find things to do there

Here are 20 interesting facts about Blenheim Palace you may not have known. Learn more about the palace and what to do there with this guide and make the most of your visit.

About Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace makes a great day out for the whole family. Located in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, it’s one of largest houses in England and the only palace not directly associated with the Royal Family. In 1987, it became a UNESCO world heritage site and today, 2000 acres of beautiful grounds provide the ideal place to relax. For those wanting to make the most of their day, there are a number of parks and gardens surrounding the palace which are included in the entry fee. There are also a number of footpaths and public rights of way through the Great Park area of the grounds for everyone to enjoy time outside.

Learn more about this beautiful building with these interesting facts and find exciting things to do within the grounds at the bottom of this page.

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace

20 interesting facts about Blenheim Palace

  1. Movie Central – many exciting films and TV dramas have been filmed there, including some popular favourites; Spectre 007, The legend of Tarzan, The Avengers, Black Beauty, Harry Potter, The Order of the Pheonix, Cinderella and most recently The BFG movie.
  2. The inner roof, located at the entrance of the palace, features paintings of the eyes of the 9th Dukes’ wife. It is widely known that the three blue eyes are paintings of the Duke’s Wife however it remains a mystery who the brown eyes officially belong to.
  3. It was built as a gift to the 1st Duke of Marlborough and has been home to successive Dukes of Marlborough. The 12th Duke of Marlborough and his family currently live there.
  4. It’s the only building in England other than royal buildings to be lucky enough to own the title of ‘palace’.
  5. The palace was the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill in 1874. Although he was born there, it is rumoured that he never actually lived there.

“It’s the only building in England other than royal buildings to be lucky enough to own the title of ‘Palace’.”

  1. The building was once converted into a hospital in order to nurse wounded soldiers during the First World War.
  2. It has a huge amount of space and features 200 rooms and 1000 windows. When it was first built, the size of the window was decided in regards to the importance of the person which lived in that room. Servants had smaller windows and members of the Duke and Duchess’ family had large windows.
  3. Books galore! The Long Library is home to more than 10,000 books and also hosted a boys school which had to be re-located during World War Two.
  4. You haven’t always been able to wander around the building like you can now. It only opened it’s doors to the public in 1950, so has only been a public visitor site for over 70 years.
  5. Blenheim Palace was appointed by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1987.

  1. Every summer a spectacular jousting tournament is held here, where brave knights and their valiant steeds step up to the stage to charge, stampede and battle each other whilst putting on a fantastic show.
  2. It was actually relatively cheap to build given its size and grandeur – costing only £300,000 back in the 18th century. Sir John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor were the architect behind the design and Lancelot Capability Brown landscaped the gardens.
  3. The Monarch still owns the land which Blenheim is built on and they still get paid rent. However, the only payment that is required is a Blenheim Flag – a pretty good deal really!
  4. Originally the palace was a gift to John Churchill as a celebration of the Victory won over France in the Spanish Succession.

“Servants wages – In the time of the 1st Duchess a Laundry maids salary was only £6 per year!”

  1. From the 1600’s to the 1800’s the palace had to pay a window tax related to the amount of light that was let into the house per window.
  2. One of the sun dials went missing for a long time after it had been sent off for repair and only recently appeared in a box along with the invoice for the repair work that had been done.
  3. The flag flies when the Duke is home and is taken down when the Duke is away.
  4. When the clock tower was first built, servants had to scramble up the extremely narrow spiral staircase to change and alter the time. Luckily, it is now done mechanically.
  5. Servants wages – In the time of the 1st Duchess a Laundry maids salary was only £6 per year!
  6. The family motto of the Churchill family which is engraved within the crest means ‘faithful but unfortunate’.
Blenheim Palace lake

Blenheim Palace lake

Things to do in Blenheim Palace

A good old game of hide and seek

The palace park is home to one of Europe’s largest collections of oak trees with 60 of the oaks being over 9000 years old! They are great to hide behind, run around and wander through, so grab your walking boots, head into the woods and have a really good game of hide and seek!

Oak trees at Blenheim Palace

Oak trees at Blenheim Palace

Circle the Lake

The beautiful lake which is well worth a wander around. A quick 45-minute circular walk will take you to some of the best views. A range of terrain takes you past the boat house and provides outstanding views of the beautiful water terraces. For more information on this trail visit the Blenheim Palace website

Alternatively try your luck at coarse fishing in the grand lake which is open from June till March. Bring along your fishing equipment, hire a boat and set out for a first class fishing experience.

Take a train ride

Within the grounds, you’ll find a miniature train railway which provides pleasure trips to the pleasure gardens. For a small charge you can hop on the train and take a ride whilst soaking up the beautiful scenes of the grounds. The kids are bound to love it!

Railway at Blenheim Palace

Railway at Blenheim Palace

Get lost in the maze

Do you think you can navigate your way through 3000 yew hedges? The marlborough hedge maze is one of the largest hedge mazes in the world, at 1.8 acres, the maze really is not one to be missed. The wooden bridges provide an intermittent view of the amazingly sculptured hedges which are shaped in the shapes of cannon balls, trumpets and flags. Don’t get lost and be sure to take an OS map!

Fun Fact: It takes a full week and the effort of 6 people with hedge trimmers to be able to give the maze its’ yearly trim!

Maze at Blenheim Palace

Maze at Blenheim Palace

Visit the butterfly house

The butterfly house is full of exotic species of butterflies which you can watch fly and which you can get right up close to. Welcomed in from Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, these rare species of butterflies now live in this beautiful tropical environment and are available for the public to go and view. Take a visit to these beautiful insects and if you are lucky you might even get one to land on you!

Enjoy one of the many palace gardens

There is a whole variety of fantastic gardens to visit at Blenheim, perfect for either letting off some steam or taking a peaceful moment to yourself. Split into formal gardens and pleasure gardens there is something to suit every member of the family, whether it be walking round the lavender garden, relaxing by the water features, playing in the adventure playground or enjoying the amazing smells of the rose garden.

Check out our best recommendations for which gardens to visit below.

Palace gardens

Palace gardens

The secret garden

Built originally as a private garden for the Duke in 1952, the secret garden is just waiting to host your adventures. The three acre site has winding paths, pools, streams and a whole variety of colourful plants for you to enjoy. It is the perfect place to wander around, remove yourself from the real world and have your own little adventure.

The Secret Garden at Blenheim Palace

The Secret Garden at Blenheim Palace

The Churchill memorial garden

Visit the beautiful garden created in memory of the great Winston Churchill. Built next to the temple where Churchill proposed to his wife, the garden is a great combination of history and horticulture. You can test your history knowledge with the walk-able timeline of Churchills life and achievements whilst enjoying the beautiful flower beds which line the winding pathway.

The Churchill Memorial Garden at Blenheim Palace

The Churchill Memorial Garden at Blenheim Palace

We hope this gives you a taster of Blenheim Palace and its beautiful grounds so you can visit with your family and friends. There are a number of events held here throughout the year including the popular Christmas at Blenheim. The parks and gardens, in particular, make a great day outside and you can find a network of publicly accessible walking trails nearby.

Liked by 1 users

By OS Team


Digital Maps

Use OS Maps to see more detail including footpaths, bridleways, cycle tracks and rights of way.

Use world-renowned Ordnance Survey mapping with unlimited use of every OS Explorer and OS Landranger map for the whole of Great Britain. That’s instant access to 607 maps to view, print, or download to your phone – all included in your subscription.

Launch OS Maps


OS Shop

Use OS Maps to see more detail including footpaths, bridleways, cycle tracks and rights of way.

Go to the shop