Our day out at Blenheim Palace started with one of the most impressive and grand approaches to an afternoon tea venue we’ve ever experienced. We walked up the huge driveway, admiring the palace ahead of us and the expansive grounds. A walk through the formal gardens would certainly help build up an appetite for the treats later on.
Blenheim has so much to offer that we had to choose what to squeeze into our afternoon. After admiring the fountains, sculptures and beautiful planting, we opted for a tour of the State Rooms and the Churchill Exhibition. As we walked through the huge front doors, we were invited to look out for the Tino Sehgal exhibition which would be taking place throughout the day. In the grand hallway, two performers were locked in an embrace, inspired by Auguste Rodin’s sculpture ‘The Kiss’.
We walked through the ornate state rooms, learning about the history of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. We particularly enjoyed listening to the organ demonstration in the Long Library and staring up at the highly decorated ceilings.
Finally, we looked around the Churchill Exhibition, a great display of images, artefacts and curiosities from the life of Winston Churchill. We learnt that Churchill invented the original boiler suit in the 1930s, and about his love of horses from an early age. There was even an opportunity for a photo with the Winston Churchill waxwork!
Next, we headed to the Orangery, and it was only fitting that we were booked to sample the Churchill Afternoon Tea. The Orangery is a high-ceilinged, bright room overlooking the manicured Italian Garden. We chose to sit on the terrace and enjoy the views across the topiary towards the palace.
We started with a glass of Pol Roger Champagne whilst choosing our teas. Our Ceylon, and Rose Raspberry teas arrived in attractive glass teapots with matching teacups, and an hourglass to let us know when to pour.
Our stands arrived, with three layers of savouries, cakes and scones. Starting with the savoury options, we particularly liked the warm mini chicken and mushroom pie, but the smoked salmon and caviar muffin was a special treat.
Next, we sampled the fresh scones, one fruit and one plain scone each, to be enjoyed with clotted cream and strawberry jam. We then moved onto the top tier of cakes and pastries. The caramel craquelin was delicious, and the passionfruit eclair was particularly striking with its vibrant icing and sharp filling.
But the star of the show was the final course, the Winston Churchill fruit cake. Describing it simply as a fruit cake doesn’t do it justice. A biscuit base was layered with marzipan, a domed fruit cake, whipped cream, and topped with a chocolate medallion. A work of art and very tasty.
To finish off the day we took a final turn around the grand entrance of the palace, overlooking the lake. There is so much to see and do at Blenheim, that we knew we would have to make a second visit, and perhaps enjoy another Churchill Afternoon Tea.
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