Wed, 27 May 2020
BLENHEIM Palace, the Oxfordshire UNESCO World Heritage Site, is among the first of the UK’s major attractions to start welcoming the public back to their Park and Formal Gardens only from Saturday May 30.
In appreciation of their loyal support through this period, for the first week only Annual Pass and walking permit holders will be able to visit, with general visitors being welcomed back from Saturday, June 6.
In order to manage numbers and ensure social distancing guidelines are maintained, everyone will need to book a date and time slot prior to any visit.
As part of its preparations, Blenheim Palace has also created a series of new safety protocols to reassure visitors.
Blenheim Palace CEO Dominic Hare said: “We realise how crucial it is that visitors feel safe, and we have produced our own kite mark detailing what extra precautions we are taking, which is included in all our new maps, on signage and on our website.
“Our senior management team has spent the past eight weeks entirely re-imagining what a visit to Blenheim Palace looks like under the new guidelines and how we can put the safety and well-being of our staff and our visitors first.”
Blenheim has devised a series of one-way outdoor route options for visitors to explore within the Park and Gardens and also produced a new audio guide to their formal gardens, downloadable for free onto any smartphone.
Visitors will be welcomed at a safe distance, all transactions will be cashless and staff will wear gloves and be behind protective screens.
Food options will be via mobile catering facilities and extra temporary outdoor toilets with washing and hand sanitising areas will be set up.
New signage, barriers and announcements will also form part of the visit and there will be additional staff on hand to provide advice and information.
Visitors can also watch an explanatory safety video prior to arriving on site and there will be a live stream on the website to show visitors in real time what is happening onsite so all can feel reassured before visiting.
Mr Hare added: “We recognise how important it is, not just for the future of Blenheim Palace but for our surrounding communities, to be able to start welcoming people back through our gates. The Park and Gardens have never looked more beautiful and we cannot wait to share them again.
“Even though this kind of limited re-opening is likely to be loss-making initially, we believe it is an important first step in getting our, and the area’s, economic engine re-started."
While the Palace itself and Pleasure Gardens will initially remain closed, the public will have access to much of the rest of the 2,000-acre Estate.
Guests will be able to choose from four different route options ranging from 35 minutes to two hours offering access to the Formal Gardens, the Rose Garden and the temple where Winston Churchill proposed to his wife Clementine.
Other highlights of the ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped grounds include the Grand Bridge, the Water Terraces, the Grand Cascade and the Secret Garden.
To book time slots go to www.blenheimpalace.com/tickets