The palace just up the road

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About a twenty-minute bus ride north of Oxford is the cute town of Woodstock and Blenheim Palace.  Blenheim was given to the 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, who defeated the French at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704.  The palace was also where Winston Churchill was born, and he proposed to his wife, Clementine, on the grounds.  The palace is interesting, focusing a lot on Winston Churchill and life during the past 300 years of the manor.  There’s a lot of gold leaf.  Lots and lots of gold.  (Not in this picture though, that’s just an interesting tapestry over the main entrance.)

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For me, the appeal of Blenheim are the grounds.  There are acres of parkland as well as multiple formal gardens, trees that are hundreds of years old, and a lovely lake.  We have now spent two sunny afternoons exploring the grounds and enjoying the family section with a hedge maze, playground, and games.

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This guy was tucked away in the Secret Garden. (Which had a sign indicating its location.  I’m not sure it’s going to stay a secret for much longer.)

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The rose garden was past its peak, but still managed to show off quite a bit.

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Both times we’ve visited so far, we’ve taken a picnic lunch and wandered about — we’ve found hollow trees, a lovely cascading stream, and tucked away places that are almost too green to be true (especially to us West Texas folk).  We had fun taking Stephanie and Katie out to Blenheim on their visit as well.   IMG_3536

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The girls’ favorite part, though, is definitely the pleasure garden.  In addition to a the “second largest symbolic yew hedge maze in the world,” there’s an adventure playground, and “giant’s games,” which are large puzzles on the ground.  And you have to take a train to get there.  Bonus.

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Once you buy a one-day ticket to Blenheim, you can convert it to an annual pass, so for a short bus ride, we can head up there anytime we want.  On our last Oxford visit, we didn’t make it to Blenheim until late in our trip, so we’re really exciting about making the most of it while we’re here.  We’re looking forward to seeing fall at Blenheim, participate in Halloween activities, and see it decorated for Christmas.

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