The Great Court of the Palace
A birthday outing to Blenheim on rather a grey and misty day. The first thing to know about Blenheim is that it was built as a national monument rather than just a home. Queen Anne provide the land and money to build the palace to commemorate the defeat of Louis IV's army at Blenheim on the Danube in 1704. It was seen as a great victory and the first real check on Louis's attempt to dominate Europe. The architect was Sir John Vanbrugh.
We parked up and headed towards the Palace, soon arriving at the Kitchen Court, which sits on the west side of the Great Court. The gateway is certainly impressive and Pevsner describes it as having a rugged military character. Although the gate was half open it wasn't possible to explore the courtyards or the interior.
We turned right passing the large lake, the work of Capability Brown in 1764-74, who swept away Vanbrugh and Henry Wise's design for the grounds.
Having reach the Great Court we headed away from it ...
... crossing Vanbrugh's magnificent Palladian style bridge, which separate the two parts of the lake.
Having crossed the bridge there is a view of the Column of Victory (1727-30).
Returning across the bridge, we found an interesting poster which showed Vanbrugh's beautiful original design for the bridge.
Heading towards the Palace we turned right to skirt the Stable Court and visit the formal gardens - which were a little disappointing.
We retraced our steps towards the car park and then turned left towards the gate which leads to Woodstock. This brought us a much more dramatic view of the bridge.
We went through the Italianate gateway into the main street of Woodstock ...
... and followed the road round to the right to pass the church of St Mary Magdalene, a medieval church almost completely rebuilt by A W Blomfield in 1878.
A little further on is the the Bear Hotel ...
... and the Town Hall. The lower storey probably served as a market hall until it was enclosed in 1898.
We then did a loop around the main streets of the town and then returned via the Gate to the car park. Woodstock is a consistently Georgian town. It is a pleasant town, although with no individual building being especially remarkable.
Conditions: cold and grey.
Rating: five stars