No trip to Britain can be complete without a visit to the magnificent Blenheim Palace, the ancestral home of the Marlborough dynasty which started with John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough. The building of the palace was originally intended to be a reward to John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, from a grateful nation for the duke’s military triumphs against the French and Bavarians during the War of the Spanish Succession, culminating in the 1704 Battle of Blenheim. The future British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim, although his branch of the family were poor cousins of the palace’s owners. There is a permanent exhibit chronicling Churchill’s life and achievements. The main attractions, however are the opulent staterooms, furnished and decorated in a style that favoured grandeur over comfort. The artwork is breathtaking.

Visiting Blenheim is a fairly easy day trip from London. Trains leave Paddington Station for Oxford many times during the day and the trip takes about an hour. The Oxford bus station is adjacent to the rail depot and local buses can be taken from there to the gates of Blenheim Palace in the village of Woodstock, about 10 miles from Oxford. It is a very long walk from the gates to the palace, so if you have mobility issues you may want to consider taking a taxi, a more expensive option at £25. Both guided and self-guided tours are available. In addition to the splendour of the palace interior, the grounds and gardens are an attraction in themselves. There are minibus tours of the grounds available. The palace also has a public dining room that serves a very good lunch at affordable (for Britain) prices.

John Best has had a lengthy media management career, in television and radio and now print. As Vice President, News at CHCH in Hamilton, John oversaw a significant expansion of the news operation. He founded Independent Satellite News, Canada’s only television news service providing national content to Canadian independent TV stations. John is a frequent political commentator on radio and television, a documentary producer and author of a book and numerous articles on historical and political subjects. John is a past recipient of the New York Festival’s award for writing in the International TV category.

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