It is a World Heritage site after all so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised but I am. The number of foreign visitors is staggering, they arrive by the coach load and yet I’m guessing that many people from the UK have never visited. Anyway the thing is Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is a tourist hotspot.
Blenheim is famous, among other things, for being the birthplace of Winston Churchill and there is an excellent permanent display at the house telling the story of his life.In the gift shop too, you can buy all sorts of Churchill souvenirs, including a book about the great man by one Boris Johnson!No doubt we will continue to hear more Churchill influenced rhetoric from its deluded author.
Churchill is buried a short walk away in the village of Bladon. We were stopping just around the corner from here at the Caravan and Motorhome Club’s Bladon Chains site.
One benefit of staying on the Club site is the thirty percent discount on admission charges to Blenheim. Once you have purchased your admission ticket you can then upgrade it to an annual pass at no extra charge. That makes a return visit even more attractive.
A downside of its popularity is the painfully slow pace during the route through the house.We didn’t bother with the iPhone-type audio guides, which may well be an interesting addition to the tour experience, but they did result in hundreds of people stood blocking the route like some sort of half human creatures, staring and tapping while gazing at the rooms and walls.
Anyway, armed with our annual pass, we will return but probably at a quieter time of year when the visitor numbers have dropped off a bit.
Not quite as grand as some of the other Oxford colleges (but it’s all relative!) and tucked away a little bit, Merton College is still worth a visit. Some of the dates are mind blowing. Merton College has been involved in education and research at the University of Oxford since 1264!
The College has approximately 300 undergraduates studying a wide range of subjects including mathematics, physics, history, literature and law. Well known Mertonians include JRR Tolkien, TS Elliot and Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan.
As a visitor, there is a small charge to enter but you are free to wonder around the central areas of the college site and visit the impressive Chapel. The Chapel itself was built between the late 13th to mid 15th centuries and it served as a parish church.Outdoors you can visit the oldest quadrangle in Oxford, which goes by the really quite funky name of the ‘Mob Quad’.Sounds like a good name for a four piece band! It’s not a new name by any means; it was first used around 1797 and probably refers to the undergraduates who lived in this part of the college.
The University of Oxford is steeped in history. One of its most famous colleges is Magdalen College (pronounced Maudlin), it was founded in 1458 and was designed to be one of the grandest in Oxford. Some famous alumni include Cardinal Wolsey of Henry VIII fame, Oscar Wilde and CS Lewis.
As you walk along the paths, go under the archways and enter the buildings, it’s easy to imagine you have stepped back in time or onto a film set. The worn stone steps could probably tell a story or two and there’s a certain romance about a visit here. The College is open to the public but there is an admission charge. This charge does includes an informative colour leaflet/guide book.
If you are visiting Oxford it is well worth spending a bit of time looking around this historic college. I hope these few pictures give you an idea of what you can expect to see.
Steps with character
The Founder’s Tower
Around the Cloisters
Steps to The Hall
Roses in Summer
The Water Walks
Stunning Sepia toned stained glass Chapel windows
Inside the Chapel with reredos screen at the far end