Blenheim Palace

Sunday was a rare sunny day so we decided to go outfor the day and wanted to go somewhere new. A cousin recommended Bleinheim Palace, so off we went, and arrived just over an hour later by car.

The palace is a very impressive building and the surrounding gardens are a huge 2,000 acres. There are two tours of the palace. The audio-visual tour of the upper floor is well thought out and gives a good overview of the history of the palace and its owners. Some of the rooms have animatronic figures who tell projected stories, which Munchkin watched with great interest. You’re guided through these rooms by one of the first occupants of the house. The remaining rooms have touch-screen information stations that give a great deal of information on the history of the house and the family; you can take your time in these rooms, although Munchkin was keen to move on every time the magic door into the next room opened (every 3-4 minutes).

The tour of the ground floor is self-guided and goes through several furnished rooms with information plaques and guides in them. There’s an interesting trail for young children that involves looking for animals in paintings and on ceilings and furniture; the lovely guides were very helpful and Munchkin had a great time.

The best part of the gardens for families has to be the Pleasure Gardens, which includes a maze, an adventure playground and a smaller play area for younger children. There’s a car park next to it but make sure you go to the palace first because there’s no way back into the rest of the gardens from here. Munchkin had a lovely time in the adventure playground, which was essentially a series of linked wooden climbing frames with climbing nets as well. You can take a little train from the palace to the pleasure garden, which runs every 30 minutes.

At £20 for adults and £11.50 for children aged 5 to 16 years (under 5s are free) for a one-day visit it’s expensive, but it’s worth it if you convert your ticket to an annual pass valid for 12 months; you have to do this within 7 days of visiting and can apply online. If you do convert to a 12-month pass, it’s worth going back just for the playground and the gardens, and there are regular events in the gardens as well.

The nearby small town of Woodstock is lovely, lots of stone buildings and full of character. Meals and drinks can be a little pricey but it’s a beautiful place to spend some time and relax after visiting the palace and gardens.

Visit the palace’s website here.

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