I’ve made good use of my Blenheim Palace annual pass this year. My latest visit I did the private apartments downstairs tour, and the new Royal Connections Crowns and Coronets exhibition.
Being spring, it rained, but luckily the damp did disappear as I was leaving and the blue skies made for some nicer photos.
When I first arrived I stopped to fill my water bottle (nice to see somewhere with their water refill machine in a big obvious place that can’t be missed) and get a drink at the cafe. Then I went for a quick wander around the formal gardens while I waited for the palace itself to open.
It’s nice to visit on a weekday morning as it’s so much emptier than at the height of summer or on days of their events. It meant I could take my time and several places I walked I didn’t see anyone for a while.
One of the extra trails that is on at Blenheim is the Lights Camera Action Trail. There’s a map of the grounds which marks the different areas used in films over the years. Of course, if you’re a Morse or Endeavour fan, the final Endeavour ended with him driving away from Blenheim Palace as Morse’s Jaguar was driving in. I love spotting local places in tv and films!
Royal Connections Crowns and Coronets exhibition
The new exhibition in the palace is based on the royal connections the Marlboroughs had through history from John Churchill the 1st Duke of Marlborough and his wife Sarah. The exhibition features a restoration of Queen Anne’s crown and her throne, before taking you through the state rooms explaining how the royal connections progressed and grew over the years of the various dukes.
The exhibition includes photos and insights about the historical royal relationships, as well as featuring robes and dresses from Bridgerton, the Queen’s coronation in Netflix’s The Crown show, the coronation robes from the show Victoria and other ceremonial robes and crowns.
It was really interesting to find out more about the royal history links nearby to us, and the way it was displayed was impactful. In particular in the Long Library. The dresses and robes were stunning, and I suspect the real ones at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation must have been very heavy.
Like the upstairs tour I’d previously done, there’s no photos allowed on the downstairs tour. This is because it’s part of the private residence rather than part of the palace generally open to the public.
There were about 10-12 of us on the tour, which is an additional £5 cost on top of your ticket or annual pass. It lasts around 45 minutes and is really interesting if you want the chance to ask questions and find out more about not only the history of how things worked below stairs, but also how things have changed for modern day living and working.
We got to hear about how the rooms changed, which staff and servants had their base in which areas (the Butler’s Pantry moved several times), but also how the staff numbers and roles have changed.
It’s definitely worth doing if you’re there and have time and it’s great to have seen the contrast between upstairs and downstairs.
My visit to Blenheim was fairly brief this time, but I’ll be looking forward to more exhibitions there later in the year.
Have you been to visit any recent exhibitions there?