One of life’s great pleasures, afternoon tea at Blenheim Palace certainly has a touch of glamour, as Kerry Heaney discovered on the latest stop of her month-long ‘foodcation’.
Would I spill the milk or drop the spoon, hold the teacup awkwardly or put the jam on before the cream? When you are having afternoon tea at a palace, these are important questions.
Afternoon tea in the Indian Room at Blenheim Palace is quite an event to be enjoyed, even under watchful eyes in the vibrant fresco covered walls. The room overlooks the stunning formal garden filled with large ponds, fountains and statuary, a wonderfully relaxing outlook.
It started with a flute of Pol Roger champagne and finished with a cup of tea with all manner of sweet treats in between. Delicate macarons, mini-chocolate éclairs filled with Chantilly cream, smoked salmon rosettes on blinis and ribbon sandwiches, there was enough food for lunch as well as dinner.
All fabulously fresh, the produce for Blenheim is sourced locally and the food is made on site each day. It’s all real, even the cream which had been freshly whipped a little too enthusiastically and was just on the turn to butter!
Home to the 11th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, Blenheim is a World Heritage Site and also the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, who was a cousin of the ninth Duke. The Churchill Exhibition, set around the room where he was born, shows a personal side to this great man.
Outside the palace is over 2000 acres of landscaped gardens designed by Capability Brown, while inside is awe-inspiring 18th century Baroque architecture. You can wander the halls by yourself or take a tour and hear the history behind the stunning portraits and exquisite furniture that fills the grand rooms. While it’s hard to take your eyes off the décor, look skyward and there’s even more to see with decorated ceilings and ornate stonework.
Blenheim Palace is just one of the gems of the Cotswolds, an area that is so postcard perfect that it seems impossible that it’s real and not some sort of giant theme park.
You can drive here in about two hours straight from London. We stayed at The Feathers, the first English hotel to establish a Guinness World Record for the most varieties of gin commercially available on the planet. It has a large courtyard and Gin Bar. The building has been a feature of Woodstock since the 17th century.
Find out more about the Cotswolds at their Travel Guide.