London lifestyle & travels with kids and babies
Just over an hour drive from London and 20 minutes from Oxford, Blenheim Palace Cotswolds fascinates instantly with its grand baroque architecture, 2000 acres of stunning landscapes, fabulous collections of art and antiques, and formal gardens crafted by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Over the long May weekend we’ve been invited to the glorious Blenheim palace Jousting tournament – the kiddies were thrilled given they recently devoured King Arthur tales. And over the year the palace has so much to be discovered and so many other events, including Jaguars exhibition, Shakespeare theatre, live concerts, circus, wilderness camps, plus Blenheim Palace garden show and Christmas festivities.
The parking options are vast and free of charge. And just at the entrance there’s the cutest miniature train taking any tired feet to the Gardens. The railway opened in 1975 and push-pull operated. The original locomotive was named Sir Winston Churchill, later joined by locomotives Muffin and Tracy-Jo.
But on this occasion, we opted for discovering ourselves the courtyard and walking around. By the time we wrapped up the day, the miniature railway and the new Winston locomotive finished for the day (the last ride is at 5pm), so we promised kiddies will be back for the mini train!
Blenheim palace Jousting was the flavour of the long bank holiday week-end, so we spent most time by the various stations: Medieval Blacksmith, Children’s Archery Range, birds of prey, baby dragon walkabout, jesters workshop to mention just a few. The knights on horseback charging in traditional tilt and battling on foot with the mighty mace and quarterstaff were of course the highlight of the day and the acts were wittily commented on.
Somehow between the acts, archery sessions and hot chocolates I managed as well to explore with the 5 years old the Palace and marvelled at ceilings, drawing rooms tapestries and clocks, libraries, paintings and fireplaces.
300 years of history, this is Churchill family estate built and funded through controversy, tense arguments with master architects Vanbrugh and Hawksmoor and family compromises. The Untold Story at the Palace is a perfect interactive introduction to the key characters, debates, sacrifices required and glorious outcome.
We wrapped up our daytrip with this 40 minutes immersion into the Untold Story and loved how it took us all into the various historical contexts and times, characters and reasoning.
Blenheim Palace makes a perfect day trip from London, cultured packed and so therapeutical with its greenery and ‘Capability’ gardens! For friends and followers of the blog, by now you know my passion for ‘Capability’ designed landscapes – I got to know and fell in love at Claremont gardens, Wimpole Estate, Wrest Park, Hampton Court– to mention just a few of London nearby gems.
For a family friendly boutique hotel within an hour drive, we recommend the Calcot Manor – wrote about in here, alongside with further tips for Cotswolds with kids. Spring and summer are perfect timing for exploring Blenheim Palace Cotswolds and nearby English enchanted landscapes with trees and flowers in full bloom!
Disclaimer: Many thanks to Blenheim Palace for the invite! As usual overexcited & mischievous kids, pics and impressions – ours.