A day at Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace, one of the country’s most splendid stately homes and birthplace to our greatest prime minister Sir Winston Churchill, is steeped in history and grandeur. It’s beauty is now shared with many. As a major tourist destination, it offers many changing exhibitions, wonderful parkland, fine restaurants, outdoor mazes & playgrounds and different seasonal attractions.
All play no work
Earlier this year we tried out Blenheim’s newest addition – the Adventure Playground. This huge area of different climbing frames, dens, swings, paths, secret chambers, zip wires and towers had my two little ones running around for hours. Even better it is a gated, fulled enclosed space, so you can sit back and enjoy a coffee and cake from the café on site.
My old school friend now TV racing presenter Kiri Bloore came along for the day with us too. We don’t see much of each other these days as she is a true globe trotter, so it was lovely to catch up. Her little boy joined Rory and Jasmine to play. After several hours of hiding and charging about, they all had an absolute blast.
After our time slot ended, we walked around the palace’s stunning grounds and were treated to a seasonal outdoor jousting tournament, which happened to be occurring that weekend. And as it was a Sunday, we walked round to the newly renovated Orangery Restaurant, which is open daily from 12.00 - 17.00.
In January 2023 the roof of The Orangery was restored to its original slate composition and the gorgeous light-filled setting is the first Grade 1 listed building to carry out a project of this kind. The process involved the removal of the existing glass ceiling, replacing it with a hand-crafted timber and slate structure.
We leant that over the course of the last three centuries, The Orangery has fulfilled a range of roles at Blenheim Palace, from being a greenhouse for the main house, a conservatory, a theatre, an art gallery, office space, and now most recently a fabulous restaurant. The kitchen now serves moreish bar snacks, afternoon teas and hearty Sunday lunches.
What we ate
After a short wait for our table, for it is extremely popular with the Sunday crowd, we started with warm breads served with flavoured butter & olive oil & balsamic.
I then tried the Smoked salmon & lemon crème fraîche, with pickled shallots and capers, served on sourdough. My other half opted for the Breaded goat cheese, served on a seasonal leaf salad with roasted beetroot & candied walnuts. We noted there was a ‘seasonal allotment soup of the day’, which highlights the palace’s focus on farm to table produce.
For mains, we both had the roasted sirloin of beef, served with all the trimmings, including pigs in blankets – all perfectly cooked. There are other tempting plates available – I thought the Crab, chilli & lime pappardelle served with rocket & toasted garlic sourdough sounded divine.
Kids all had mini roast beef dinners, which were large enough for an adult in my humble opinion. We stretched our tummies further with a couple of obligatory sticky toffee puds to share, served with toffee sauce and clotted cream.
The champagne was flowing and before we knew it the Orangery was closing. We ambled back through the park a different way, citing sculptures and even a tennis court, presumably for the visiting family to use.
Blenheim is always a great day out with so many options for all ages. We didn’t even get inside the palace, but next time might try to catch an exhibition.