Blenheim Palace has received a £1.8m grant from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage as part of a nationwide rescue scheme to safeguard some of the UK’s most important cultural sites.
Blenheim Palace is among a raft of historic locations to be awarded the grant, which will help support jobs and boost the local economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The grant will allow Blenheim Palace to create a brand new exhibition on the life of Winston Churchill, who was born at the Palace. It will be designed specifically to appeal to a family audience and will incorporate newly-created audiovisual guides.
The money will also help fund a major new feature within the historic stables and provide a fully-accessible route to the formal gardens for the first time.
Chief Executive Dominic Hare has descriibed the grant as an ‘amazing shot in the arm’ for Oxfordshire tourism.
He said: “We are utterly delighted to have secured this wonderful grant which will help us deliver a raft of crucial projects to ensure we can give as many visitors as possible the best and safest welcome next year and onwards,” he said.
“This grant doesn’t just support the 1.3m people who visit and relish Blenheim Palace every year, or the 400 people who work here, or our ability to restore and share this precious World Heritage Site, although it does all of those things.
“This grant also helps safeguard the 2,500 jobs in other businesses who we support, it supports the £53m our visitors spend outside our gates, it supports the £126m we create in the wider economy and it supports the £2m we raise for great causes every year.
“It is also an amazing shot in the arm for Oxfordshire tourism, for which we are proud to play a major supporting role, drawing valuable tourists from around the UK and the world into the area.
“It will make us truly resilient as we move through the pandemic, it will make us an even safer site to visit and gives us a massive boost as we embrace the challenges of next year.”
As part of a raft of initiatives designed to increase accessibility and provide a safe, socially-distanced visitor experience, they will also develop faster, virtual tickets, digital annual passes and improved Wi-Fi.
The funding will be used to build new catering facilities, along with additional, distanced, outdoor seating areas.
The Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage is part of the government’s £1.57 billion ‘Here For Culture’ campaign that unites public, government and cultural organisations in support of cinemas, theatres, music venues, museums, galleries and heritage.