English Country Houses: Blenheim Palace (1725)

Vast and impersonal country houses, built to create an impression on visitors rather than bestow creature comforts on inhabitants, had been a feature of the English landscape long before Blenheim Palace. Yet this huge complex, the house alone encompassing seven acres of Oxfordshire on completion in 1725, bore comparison with the largest palaces of Europe.

Set to become the historic seat of the Dukes of Marlborough after Queen Anne gifted the manor of Woodstock to the 1st Duke, John Churchill, in 1705, as a reward for his military triumphs, it’s the only English country house — those of bishops aside — that has by longstanding popular consent been accorded the honorific title of palace (it was once described by some as Blenheim Castle).

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