On a typically cold wet and rainy English Spring day, my mother and I visited Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, Oxfordshire - a place neither of us had had a proper trip to since I was a small child. (I did go to its gardens this Christmas on yet another wet occasion to see them lit up for the festive season - it was stunning, I highly recommend it). The palace itself is famous for so many things - Winston Churchill being just one of them. It is an absolute beauty of a building and set amongst some gorgeous English countryside.
Whilst not cheap, our entrance, like everyone else's, at £22.50 can be turned into an annual pass at no extra cost so that many of the events held at Blenheim over a year become free to attend (though not all - only the events hosted by Blenheim Palace itself). That large entrance fee does, therefore, I feel become much more enticing especially given that a walk around just the grounds can cost about £15. It's the perfect spot for year round visitation - picnics in the summer and exhibitions within the state rooms in the winter. Indeed, my mother and I went on a free talk and walk by the curator of the current show, "Passion for Fashion" which was both informative and entertaining. The curator obviously knew how to balance her talk between historical fact and gossipy titbits for maximum impact.
For me, there were two highlights to the exhibit. One, in the last room, was the display dedicated to highlighting the palace's long lasting relationship with the house of Dior. With film footage of both the late Princess Margaret's attendance of Yves Saint Laurent's first show, located at Blenheim, and last year's 2017 Cruise collection which saw fashion editors and glitterati shipped in by the Orient Express from London, it was a treat to see some of the dresses that the famous fashion house has designed over the years. The other highlight was seeing a costume of none other than Colin Firth from his time as Mr Darcy in the BBC adaptation of Pride And Prejudice.
Sadly, the weather put to one side our ability to have a proper walk of the grounds after our tour, though we did manage to at least walk around the edge of the main building - feeling very small and underdressed in my Converse! However, after any visit to Blenheim, I would recommend a walk around the nearby town of Woodstock, which is directly out of a film set. Wall to wall Cotswold stone, the short high street had no fewer than 7 pubs upon my counting with numerous side alleys offering up even more exploring wonder. My mother and I didn't have the best lunch at the Kings Arms, but we were happy enough with the sandwiches we received, whilst noting that the three course set menu was extraordinarily good value. It was a pity neither of us were particularly hungry given our large pastry elevenses stop at the Blenheim Palace cafe.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Blenheim with the mothership. I look forward to going back on a sunny day this summer to see Capability Brown's landscaping of the vast grounds surrounding the palace itself, and probably indulging in a cucumber sandwich or two, without the crusts, to feel wholly English.
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