Blenheim Palace

Overview

Heritage Category: World Heritage Site

List Entry Number: 1000091

Date first listed: 1987

Date of most recent amendment: 2008

Map

Ordnance survey map of Blenheim Palace
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Summary

Blenheim Palace, near Oxford, stands in a romantic park created by the famous landscape gardener 'Capability' Brown. It was presented by the English nation to John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, in recognition of his victory in 1704 over French and Bavarian troops. Built between 1705 and 1722 and characterized by an eclectic style and a return to national roots, it is a perfect example of an 18th-century princely dwelling.

This site is a cultural site in England. It is located at N51 50 31 W1 21 41.

There is a World Heritage Site Management Plan (2006) for the site and a lead officer at Blenheim Palace is charged with implementing the objectives and action plan. A Steering Group made up of key stakeholders provides a strategic forum and oversees World Heritage activities.

Statement of Significance

Blenheim Palace near Oxford was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1987 for its architectural importance, as the design and building of the Palace between 1705 and 1722 represented the beginning of a new style of architecture and for its landscaped Park designed by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown which is considered as "a naturalistic Versailles".

In tangible form Blenheim is an outstanding example of the work of John Vanburgh and Nicholas Hawksmoor, two of England's most notable architects. Blenheim represents a unique architectural achievement celebrating the triumph of the English armies over the French. Blenheim and its associated Park has exerted great influence on the English Romantic movement which was characterised by the eclecticism of its inspiration, its return to national sources and its love of nature. The original landscape set out by John Vanburgh who regulated the course of the River Glyme was later modified by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown who created two lakes seen as one of the greatest examples of naturalistic landscape design. Blenheim Palace was built by the nation to honour one of its heroes the first Duke of Marlborough and is also closely associated with Sir Winston Churchill.

Criterion (ii): By their refusal of the French models of classicism, the Palace and Park illustrate the beginnings of the English Romantic movement which was characterised by the eclecticism of its inspiration, its return to national sources and its love of nature. The influence of Blenheim on the architecture and organisation of space in the 18th and 19th centuries was greatly felt in both England and abroad.

Criterion (iv): Built by the nation to honour one of its heroes, Blenheim is, above all, the home of an English aristocrat, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, who was also Prince of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire, as we are reminded in the decoration of the Great Drawing Room by Louis Laguerre (1719-20).

In virtue of this criterion, just like the Residence of Wurzburg (included in 1981) and the Castles of Augustusburg and Falkenlust in Bruhl (included in 1984), Blenheim is typical of 18th century European princely residences, a category which is still under-represented on the World Heritage List.

Criteria

This entry is compiled from information provided by UNESCO who hold the official record for all World Heritage Sites at their Paris Head Quarters. This entry is provided for information only and those requiring further assistance should contact the World Heritage Centre at UNESCO.

Criterion (ii): By their refusal of the French models of classicism, the Palace and Park illustrate the beginnings of the English Romantic movement which was characterised by the eclecticism of its inspiration, its return to national sources and its love of nature. The influence of Blenheim on the architecture and organisation of space in the 18th and 19th centuries was greatly felt in both England and abroad.

Criterion (iv): Built by the nation to honour one of its heroes, Blenheim is, above all, the home of an English aristocrat, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, who was also Prince of the Germanic Holy Roman Empire, as we are reminded in the decoration of the Great Drawing Room by Louis Laguerre (1719-20).

End of official listing