Afternoon Tea at Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the family home of the 12th Duke of Marlborough, as it has been for all the Dukes in the past 300 years.  It is the only non-royal house in England to hold the title of a palace.

Blenheim Palace main entrance
The main entrance to Blenheim Palace

Location: 

Blenheim Palace is located in Woodstock, Oxfordshire 8 miles north of Oxford and 60 miles north west of London.  There are large car parks within the grounds and for visitors arriving by public transport Great Western Railway operate frequent services from London Paddington to Oxford Parkway.  Bus 500 shuttles between the station and the palace taking approximately 15 minutes.

Blenheim Palace through the courtyard
The palace viewed through the courtyard arch

Remember to show your bus ticket at the entrance kiosk as visitors to the Palace arriving by public transport are entitled to a 30% discount in support of sustainable travel.

Entrance tickets: 

Palace, Park and Gardens £32 (children £18.50)
Park and Gardens only £20.50 (children £10.50)

Bleinham Palace
Blenheim Palace

At first glance, ticket prices seem costly but as we were soon to discover there is more than enough to see and do to fill an entire day.  Additionally, tickets are valid for unlimited return visits during a 12 month period.

Touring Blenheim Palace

We took a self guided tour of the Palace state rooms entering through the Grand East Gate.  (Audio guides are available on request).  If the standard is flying on the rooftop this denotes that the Duke is in residence.  The iron entrance gates bear the gilded double headed eagle crest of the Churchill family and these were on display at the Great Exhibition of 1852.

The Great Hall, Blenheim Palace
The Great Hall

The Great Hall is adorned with huge marble pillars, classical statues, tapestries and family portraits and this leads through to the equally elaborate state apartments which cover two floors.

Opulent state rooms of Blenheim Palace
One of the opulent state rooms

The tour concludes in the Long Library, a vast room lined with over 100,000 books.  The library had been set out for a wedding celebration that evening and so we were able to enjoy listening to the organist practising before the event took place.

The Long Library, Blenheim Palace
The Long Library set out for a wedding celebration

Private Apartment Tours

In addition to the state apartments, it’s also possible to book a ‘behind the scenes’ Upstairs or Downstairs tour.  We opted for the Upstairs Tour, at an additional cost of £5 per person for a one hour guided tour.  As these tours are limited to a maximum of ten participants I recommend pre-booking to avoid disappointment.  The tour begins by climbing the main stairs which lead into the private apartments.  Our guide took us along secret corridors and through interlinking doors viewing guest bedrooms and the dining and sitting rooms where the family relax when in residence.  We were able to view priceless heirlooms, family photographs as well as today’s modern technology found in most homes.  From there we were taken into the bar area and Smoking Room which has walls adorned with full size tapestries.  The guest book was pointed out to us as it had been left open on the page of the day Sir Winston Churchill and Clementine Hozier had become engaged whilst visiting Blenheim.  Our tour was most enjoyable and I’d highly recommend joining one if you plan to visit Blenheim.  Unfortunately photography is not allowed in the private quarters but more details can be found here Upstairs Tour.

Sir Winston Churchill Exhibition

The Sir Winston Churchill Exhibition at Blenheim Palace
The Sir Winston Churchill Exhibition

This exhibition charts the life of the famous wartime leader and statesman, Sir Winston Churchill. It includes photographs, letters, artefacts and excerpts from his famous speeches along with a full size waxwork model.

The Stables Exhibition

The Palace’s historic stable block documents the importance of horses at Blenheim through the centuries.

The Stables Exhibition, Blenheim Palace
The Stables Exhibition

We visited the original tack room and recreated stable office.  There’s also a life size model of Churchill’s pony Rob Roy and an opportunity for families to dress up and attempt to ride side saddle.  Also on display are a collection of horse carriages used for transporting family members in bygone days.

Park and Gardens

Set in over 2,000 acres of Capability Brown landscaped parkland, pleasant strolls can be taken through the grounds.  We enjoyed a walk through each of the gardens which were all looking at their best and in full bloom.

View of the Great Lake from the Water Terrace, Blenheim Palace
View of the Great Lake from the Water Terrace

If you plan to follow some of the parkland trails and cover most of the garden features I would recommend setting aside a couple of hours.  Highlights include the Water Terrace which is located over two levels and offers superb views of both the Palace and the Great Lake.

Boathouse, Blenheim Palace
The boathouse and great lake 

The 10th Duke commissioned one secluded part of the garden as a private area where he could enjoy some privacy.  This is now known as the Secret Garden and was opened to the public in 2004.  The Rose Garden was created with the support of the 7th Duke of Marlborough and we enjoyed inhaling the fragrant scents from the blooms as we wandered around.  The Italian Garden is the Duke’s private garden and can be viewed but it is not possible to actually walk around it.

The Italian Garden, Blenheim Palace
The Italian Garden

Miniature Railway

Close to the Palace gates is the terminus of the Blenheim Park miniature railway.  ‘Winston’ the engine pulls and pushes its carriages to the Pleasure Gardens at regular intervals.  Single journey tickets £1.

The Pleasure Gardens

Located to one side of the estate and accessible either by taking the miniature railway or on foot.  As it was approaching closing time we actually moved our car from the main car park to the one closest to the Pleasure Gardens as by late afternoon there was plenty of space.

The Pleasure Gardens, Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace Pleasure Gardens

These gardens are family oriented but definitely worth a visit for everyone as alongside an adventure playground, the Marlborough Maze is fun to find your way through as it is made from hundreds of Yew trees arranged in an intricate design.

The Marlborough Maze, Blenheim Palace
The Marlborough Maze

The Blenheim maze is considered to be one of the largest hedge mazes in the world.  Also of interest in the Pleasure Gardens is the Butterfly House which is filled with exotic species from as far afield as Malaysia, Thailand and The Philippines.

Butterfly House, Blenheim Palace
Inside the Butterfly House

Afternoon Tea in the Orangery

Exploring the Palace, private apartments, parkland and formal gardens had left us decidedly peckish and we had built up quite an appetite by the time 3.00 p.m. came around for our afternoon tea reservation in the elegant Orangery.  Afternoon Tea is available between 1.00 p.m. and 4.00 p.m. daily at a cost of £32 per person with pre-booking required.  Please note that afternoon tea reservations include entry to the Blenheim grounds but exclude the Palace, more details here.

The Orangery, Blenheim Palace
The Orangery

It really felt to be a sense of occasion as we were led to our table with its starched white tablecloth, fresh flowers and napkins.  The light and airy conservatory overlooks the Italian Garden and has additional seating outside on the large terrace.

The Orangery Restaurant, Blenheim Palace
The Orangery Restaurant

Although the setting is formal, staff are friendly and there’s a relaxed atmosphere.  Looking around some of the other tables there were a mixture of couples, families and groups of friends all enjoying the quintessential English experience of afternoon tea.  Our chosen pots of Earl Grey and Afternoon Tea blend arrived first together with a bottle of Blenheim Palace’s own natural mineral water.  Our server then enquired if we had any dietary requirements and after assuring him that we didn’t have any, a traditional cake stand arrived containing three tiers, one each filled with savouries, scones and cakes.  It was explained that plates could be replenished at no extra cost which was good to know.

Afternoon Tea in the Orangery at Blenheim Palace
Our lovely afternoon tea stand

We started with the selection of delicate finger sandwiches and brioche buns, filled with smoked salmon and cream cheese, ham and mustard and egg and cress.  These were all freshly prepared and tasted delicious.  The warm confit pea, mint and shallot tart was my favourite as it was enclosed in a light, crisp pastry case.  All that walking had definitely made us hungry and we couldn’t resist requesting a refill of the savouries along with more pots of tea which we shared between us.

Scones with jam and clotted cream at the Orangery, Blenheim Palace
Scrumptious scones with jam and clotted cream

Moving on to the warm scones, one plain and one fruit each, we considered whether to put the jam or clotted cream on first.  Unable to make a decision, we settled the Devonshire / Cornish debate by spreading one with cream on top and the other with strawberry jam on top.  I don’t really think it makes the slightest bit of difference as they were both delicious anyway!

Afternoon Tea terrace, Blenheim Palace
Afternoon tea can also be enjoyed out on the terrace

Finally, it was time to sample some of the cakes starting with the Victoria Sandwich which was light and moist.  After having second helpings of savouries and devouring two scones we didn’t have room for anything else so we took the remainder home packed in a little box to enjoy later.

Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace

Enjoying our afternoon tea in the luxurious setting of the Orangery at Blenheim Palace was definitely a memorable experience and a special treat to look back on in the future.  Not only was the afternoon tea a delight but the entire six hours we spent at the Palace was lovely as there were so many interesting things to see and do.

During our visit were guests of Blenheim Palace and Searcy’s and as always, all views and opinions are entirely my own.

 

If you have enjoyed this post you may also like:

Afternoon Tea at The Devonshire Arms, Bolton Abbey

Discovering Hidden Chatsworth

59 thoughts on “Afternoon Tea at Blenheim Palace

    1. Afternoon Tea at Blenheim Palace is such a wonderful experience Sue and they cater for Vegetarian and Vegan diets. It was so generous that plates could be replenished too. Somewhere else you might like to visit on your return to the UK. Thanks so much for your welcome thoughts.

      Like

  1. ThingsHelenLoves

    What a beautiful place. So much opulence and history. I think if I had to send a visitor from overseas somewhere to feel British history, it would be Blenheim. The wedding set up in the library is just lovely- what a memorable place from which to step into married life!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Blenheim Palace and the surrounding gardens look beautiful. It sounds like you got the full experience and made the most of your visit. And what a beautiful spot to go for Afternoon Tea. All those pastries, savouries, scones and cakes look amaaaazing. I can’t believe that they could be replenished at no extra cost!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Never heard of Blenheim Palace, but wow, it’s a stunner! I had no idea how similar it looks to the châteaux in France! That afternoon tea looks scrumptious, and I’m glad you had a wonderful time out and about!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. What wonderful experiences to be had in beautiful surroundings! We would love to experience a traditional English high tea. Now we’re wondering how many months (years?) we will need to spend seeing! everything we want to see in the UK. Thank you for showing us another must-do destination,

    Liked by 3 people

  5. What a great full day outing Marion. So much to see and do as you imagine how “the other half (1%) lived. Glad this place is preserved and accessible to all. Thanks for sharing. Have a great Friday and weekend. Allan

    Liked by 2 people

  6. A lovely palace – I especially like the appearance of the Long Library (very elegant). My favourite however is the outside – the views over the lake is splendid. But let’s say my favourite-favourite ☺️ is definitely the afternoon tea stand … hmm, that looks really delicious!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Wow, just look at the size of the palace and those extraordinarily landscaped gardens set in magnificent surroundings! I would love to see the Churchill exhibition and the stables. Thanks for sharing and have a good day, Marion. It’s lashing rain in Sligo, a perfect day for snuggling up with a warm cup of tea and a book 🙂 Aiva xx

    Liked by 2 people

  8. The palace and its grounds look fabulous, this is going straight onto our to-do list. I recognise Capability Brown as the man behind the gorgeous gardens Trentham Gardens in Stoke. He certainly got around in his day and left quite the legacy in Britain.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Blenheim Palace is an extraordinarily beautiful place to visit and I’m sure you’d both enjoy spending a day there. Yes, Capability Brown was a very busy man – I’ve been to lots of gardens he’s overseen! Thanks so much for commenting and have a lovely weekend.

      Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.