Blenheim Palace and Waddesdon Manor: A Tale of Two Stately Homes

Our latest GTO Readers’ Day combined two stunning historic houses – the masterpiece of Baroque architecture, Blenheim Palace with the National Trust French Renaissance-style chateau, Waddesdon Manor. Feature writer Brenda Watkinson reports back.

Enjoying afternoon tea at Waddesdon Manor.

On a blustery day in September, 28 GTO readers with guests arrived at the main gate of Blenheim Palace near Oxford, home to the 12th Duke of Marlborough and his family, to be met by Cathy Penry, Group Sales Executive and her colleague Zoe. Following a short walk to the Palace entrance, the group were welcomed by Front of House Manager, Doug McCutchen and audio guides were distributed by his team. These new audio guides were introduced at Blenheim Palace earlier this year and proved to be very easy to use with each visitor able to tune in to as much or as little as they wished.  Next on the agenda was a Garden Tour, an opportunity to explore the Water Terraces and the Duke’s Private Italian Garden accompanied by Blenheim Guide, Alistair Urquhart.  Despite high winds, the tour gave the group a magnificent glimpse of some of the 2000 acres of landscaped Parklands and Formal Gardens surrounding the Palace.

Following a delicious lunch and time to explore the gift shop, the group travelled the 25 miles to their next attraction, Waddesdon Manor near Aylesbury, where they were met by Kim Hallett, Head of Business Development, Tourism & Filming. Built for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in the 1870s to display his fascinating collections and to entertain his fashionable friends, this stunning chateau continues to impress today.

Blenheim Palace, photo by Cath Hart.

Waddesdon Manor

At the main entrance, just 100 metres from the coach drop off point, the group were given audio guides taking them on a journey through the Manor’s many sumptuous rooms displaying  more than 15,000 works of arts including  the finest French 18th century collections of furniture, porcelain and textiles. The finale of the day was afternoon tea in the Stables Cafe, a fitting ending to a fabulous day.

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“Both Blenheim and Waddesdon staff looked after us superbly and the food was sublime.”
Pam and David, St Davids, Gloucester

“We had a very enjoyable day. At Blenheim, the audio guided tour was both interesting and informative. The lunch in the Indian Room was top notch and high tea at Waddesdon unbelievably yummy! Both venues are well worthy of visiting. WONDERFUL!”
Cath Hart, Hertfordshire Constabulary Sports & Social Club

“The Italian Garden at Blenheim was beautiful and the secret garden was also enchanting. Waddesdon Manor was almost a “fairytale castle” and very photogenic. I am more than impressed with both of these venues and will be looking at them again for our 2019 outing.”
Sandra Warner, Pitsford Thursday Club, Northampton

“Our trip to both Blenheim Palace and Waddeson Manor was an action packed day. I would highly recommend visiting both of these places as there is so much to see.”
Caroline Parma, PALS, Surrey