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Blenheim Palace Afternoon Tea

With its elegant atmosphere and tasty food, the Blenheim Palace afternoon tea offers a delightful break from the hustle-bustle of everyday life.

Blenheim Palace

When we decided to spend five days touring around South England, we knew right away that our itinerary would include a visit to Highclere Castle, the castle where the iconic British TV show Downton Abbey was filmed. We are true fans of the show and watched all six seasons on our local Philadelphia PBS station.

But then we found out that Highclere Castle was closed for renovations during our time in England. Oh no!!!

We still decided to drive to Highclere on the way to one of our other destinations thinking we could at least catch a glimpse of the famous country estate. Alas, we couldn’t even find our way past a large tractor used to manicure the mansion’s hedges.

Update
Renovations at Highclere Castle are now complete. However, the castle is only open specific days of the year. Be sure to plan ahead to avoid disappointment.

However, thanks to the Blenheim Palace afternoon tea, we got to live out our aristocratic fantasies in a spectacular location that, in many ways, is more legendary than the TV mansion made famous for its upstairs/downstairs living.

Blenheim Palace, built during the 18th century as a reward for one of the British army’s great victories, stands as a British monument with a scale that matches some of the great palaces of the world including Versailles in France and Schonbrunn palace in Austria.

Our experience at Blenheim Palace was heightened not only by the privilege of walking the expansive Palace grounds in the late afternoon when many visitors had exited but also by the scrumptious high tea served in Blenheim’s stately sunlit tea room.

Blenheim Palace Afternoon Tea

After arriving at Blenheim Palace, we headed straight to The Orangery Restaurant so that we wouldn’t miss a minute of our afternoon tea. After all, it’s not like we do this type of meal every day.

In fact, we last enjoyed an afternoon tea over six years ago in Hong Kong at the Peninsula Hotel in Kowloon. Yes, it had been way too long.

Orangerie Room at Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace’s Orangerie Room is an opulent space for afternoon tea.

Our Blenheim Palace afternoon tea had all the bells and whistles that we expected. The somewhat narrow, elegant room’s high ceiling is decked with chandeliers and large window with views of the Italian garden just outside.

Atmosphere is always important when it comes to the tea experience. Ultimately, though, it’s all about the tea and food.

Pro Tip
New to the afternoon tea concept? Check out afternoon tea etiquette rules that will make you look like a pro.

Savory Treats at Blenheim Palace Afternoon Tea
Blenheim Palace Afternoon Tea Savory Treats

We enjoyed our Traditional Afternoon Tea service with its selection of loose teas, savory sandwiches and homemade sweets. The server brought us three tiers of plates with savory tidbits like salmon sandwiches, miniature quiches, scones with clotted cream and freshly baked pastries.

Much to our surprise, there was no lemon curd – a staple of the high tea experience. Please have no pity since this predicament forced us to eat macarons instead.

Sweet Treats at Blenheim Palace Afternoon Tea
Blenheim Palace Afternoon Tea Sweet Treats

Pro Tip
Upgrade the Traditional Afternoon Tea to include champagne if you’re a fan of the bubbly.

Blenheim Palace Tour

After finishing our afternoon tea, we dashed over to the palace’s main entrance for a tour of the private residence and garden. One look at the imposing entrance and we knew we were in for a treat.

Entrance to Blenheim Palace
Eye-Catching Entrance to Blenheim Palace

We then walked inside the building which combines both elements of Italian Baroque and Neoclassic styles. Blenheim Palace is unique architecturally, and in some ways, theatrical. It took builders 22 years and 240,000 pounds of brick to build Blenheim Palace.

Inside Blenheim Palace
Inside Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is both historic and monumental. Originally built for John Churchill, also known as the first Duke of Marlborough, after he led the troupes to a successful outcome in the 1704 Battle of Blenheim, the palace has been the home to the Spencers (of Lady Diana fame) and Churchills for over 300 years.

Portraits at Blenheim Palace
These portraits feature just a few of the noteworthy residents of Blenheim Palace.

We loved our tour of Blenheim Palace and all of its impressive art and furniture including ten tapestries that detail the battle of Blenheim and a 38 seat dining room table that literally takes over a day to unfold. Our engaging tour guide, Ben Price, made the palace come to life with stories about the people who have lived at Blenheim Palace over the centuries.

We learned about Consuelo Vanderbilt’s unhappy tenure during the early 19th century, perhaps a real-life inspiration to the Downton Abbey storyline. We also learned that Winston Churchill was born in the palace and grew up there. Yes, the Winston Churchill.

Blenheim Palace Tour Guide
Blenheim Palace tour guide, Ben Price, brought the palace’s history to life with his thoughtful descriptions and stories.

We finished our tour by wandering around the palace garden and gawking at the epic structure underneath peaceful, cloud puffed blue skies. The only sounds we heard were the calm winds that drifted over the sprawling British estate.

We may not have made it to the real-life Downton Abbey but, on this trip, we experienced something even better – a palace with history and substance.

View of Blenheim Palace
Parting View of Blenheim Palace

Pro Tip
Take a quick detour and visit St. Martin’s Church in Bladon. The charming, classic English town’s church, on the edge of the Cotswolds, is the final resting place for Winston Churchill.

Research Hotels Near Blenheim Palace

We stayed at four awesome hotels near Blenheim Palace. Read about them here.

Book a Blenheim Palace Tour

Why not make a whole day out of your trip to Blenheim Palace? Check here to book a tour now.

Thirsty for Wine in England?

Go wine tasting at nearby Hambledon Vineyard.

Red Beach Selfie in Santorini

About the Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.

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Disclosures

Sponsorship
We thank Tourism Southeast, for their assistance with our visit to South England.

Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

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Francesca

Thursday 25th of August 2016

I want to do afternoon tea!! The little snacks and sweets look scrumptious (I spy smoked salmon!). The history of the Spencers and Churchills at the palace is pretty fascinating, too.

Mags

Monday 22nd of August 2016

I love a good afternoon tea and that palace is gorgeous. I've not watched Downton Abbey, but I can't imagine its any better than this place.

Erin Klema

Monday 22nd of August 2016

I also am a Downton Abbey fan, so I would have been very interested in reading a post about your visit to the stately mansion where the show was filmed. What a bummer to not be able to visit it during your time in England! However, it looks like you two ended up having an incredible experience. When I read the name "Churchill," I wondered if it was Winston Churchill's family. Sure enough, it was! How cool!!! The tea service sounds absolutely lovely, but to tour a home with such history would be a real highlight for me.

verushka

Monday 22nd of August 2016

Major fan of Downton Abbey what the entire series in 2 weeks lol. Stunning pics. Would love to taste an English High Tea in England.

Elissa

Monday 22nd of August 2016

That is amazing! I hadn't heard of this castle before, thanks for sharing. Very cool to enjoy a special afternoon tea there as well as a tour.