Just a ten minute bus ride away (take the S3 from the train station to the gates) Blenheim Palace is the ideal spot for anyone bored with the hard knocks of gritty Oxford life and looking for a bit of grand beauty and unapologetic privilege. With no need to book in advance, Sir Winston Churchill’s birthplace is the perfect spot to visit on a whim; take a couple of hours off and enjoy a carefree jaunt around two thousand acres of stunning parkland. There are over 100 acres of Formal Gardens, in which there is the Secret Garden, majestic Water Terraces, The Rose Garden and the Duke of Marlborough’s ornate private retreat: The Italian Garden. Walks to the Grand Cascade or across Vanbrugh’s Grand Bridge to the Column of Victory offer views of the magnificent lake fringed by majestic oaks and maples.
Private tours are also available, giving you an insight into life at the palace over the last three hundred years, as well as the chance that you’ll spot your favourite actor from the Bill pretending to be a lady’s maid. History buffs will no doubt enjoy the permanent exhibition in the room in which Churchill was born, housing an impressive collection of personal letters, paintings and mementoes from the life of arguably one of the greatest Britons who ever lived. If cinema is more your thing you can discover the backdrops to some iconic films hwithere: Harry Potter and Indiana Jones are among the dozens of movies which have been filmed on location at Blenheim. Bring a wand or a whip and bring your favourite scenes to life!
Once you’ve had a little gander at the grounds and the exhibition, take a cheeky ride on a comically small train that will whisk you off to the Pleasure Gardens. While possibly not quite as good as the name might imply, they will still provide you with hours of wonder. Relax in the beautiful and peaceful Lavender Garden, give your inner child free reign in the Adventure Play Area, marvel in the breath-taking Butterfly House and lose yourself in the piece-de-resistance: the giant Marlborough Hedge Maze.
Trinity Term can be a tricky time, so if you find yourself spending your Saturdays bemoaning how hungover you are, complaining that ‘we never have fun any more’ and psyching yourself up for another club night, maybe a trip to Blenheim Palace could offer a welcome change. Wait for the rain to subside, grab your camera and bring along your three favourite people (£8.50-£15.50 each with a student card). At the very least it’s an opportunity to be smug and self-satisfied when anyone asks you what you did over the weekend.