Blenheim unveils £40m restoration project

The chief executive of Blenheim Palace has announced a 10-year development programme “to revolutionise virtually every aspect” of the Oxfordshire World Heritage Site.

The plan includes a £40 million restoration programme and the re-purchasing of key historical artefacts which have been lost from the old collection over generations.

Other goals will see a tripling of the estate’s contribution to the local economy; housing 300 families in affordable housing; training more than 100 apprentices; and a doubling of its charitable impact on the local community.

Dominic Hare, chief executive, said: “We believe there is no possible vision for a future successful and flourishing Blenheim which does not depend on a flourishing and successful set of communities around it – and the same is true in reverse.

“We have set an ambition to be the economic lifeblood of the area, to enhance the lives of the people in our communities.”

Hare also wants the estate to be rated among the top 100 employers in the country and to achieve annual paying visitor numbers in excess of 750,000 within 10 years.

Total visitor numbers in 2016 were more than 881,000 (including annual pass holders) of whom almost 468,000 were paying.

Picture credit: VisitEngland/Blenheim Palace

• Following a successful first year, ‘Christmas at Blenheim’ returns this winter (November 24-January 1).

The new 2017 trail will showcase the landscape with an after-dark Christmas tour along winding paths with tree canopies decorated with shards of light, larger-than-life snowflakes and baubles.

Visitors can head for Santa’s Christmas Workshop through a twinkling tunnel and fibre-optic waterfall.