We spent day two in Woodstock, about 30 minutes by bus from Oxford, at Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill (who was grandson of the 7th Duke) and current residence of the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. I was impressed by the vast grounds, over 2000 acres; my daughter was impressed by the on-site playground, “Pleasure Gardens.” We actually had to take a little train ride to get there. They had a kids’ golfing green, hedge maze (the 2nd largest), climbing structures, and butterfly house.
But back to the palace. It was a gift to the First Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, who led the military forces in victory over France in the Wars of the Spanish Succession, 1704, on this site. A grateful Queen Anne had the palace built for the Duke; the Duke then treated it as monument to Queen Anne. We arrived by bus then took a “buggy tour” which is basically a tour of the outside gardens via golf cart. What I can remember from our guide in between my daughter’s incessant questions: in this photo of The Grand Bridge you can see windows, and the bridge guards actually lived inside the bridge; Rosamunds’s Well is the place where water is still bottled from a fresh water stream, named for the mistress of Henry II when he created a pleasure pool for her in that spot. You can still buy Blenheim Palace Natural Mineral Water.
We unfortunately didn’t get inside the palace as it was lunch time, then nap time. But we did stop for coffee and a snack. Dear Daughter kept asking about the “table where the fairies ate dinner” I think because she saw the palace brochure and I told her the fancy table on the front is where the Queen ate dinner. I knew she wouldn’t survive a 1-2 hour tour inside. So when we stopped for coffee in the Indian Room, I and the attendant were luckily able to convince her that the fairies ate their tea and cakes in that very room. Phew!