Blenheim Palace has announced that its 18th-century Orangery is now open for visitors once again following the completion of vital £2 million restoration works to replace the glass ceiling with timber and slate back to its original design.
The Orangery, which offers afternoon teas, Sunday roasts, corporate meetings and even weddings in the most unique setting at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, has also undergone a complete makeover internally, so guests can expect a whole new dining experience featuring stunning chandeliers and a harmonious merger of contemporary chic with timeless charm.
The impressive venue and dining experience features locally sourced ingredients, using fresh fruits and vegetables from the Palace’s kitchen garden.
The team worked closely with Historic England to ensure the work, materials, and architecture remained sympathetic to Vanbrugh’s original design, and it is believed to be the first type of restoration programme carried out on a Grade 1 Listed building of its kind.
The Orangery roof was last repaired in the 1970s, but the 19th-century glass roof came to the end of its natural life and needed entirely replacing.
Kelly Whitton, Head of Built Heritage at Blenheim Palace, who is also leading the Flagstaff restoration, said, “This restoration project is extremely important to us and integral to our plan to achieve our 10 Year Goals.
“The choice to rebuild the roof with timber and slate is due to plans to adapt the building to an ever-changing climate and resulting temperature swings, which present a range of challenges for historic buildings.
“Slate combined with modern insulation will be a far more effective insulator than glass, saving energy, which is a huge factor in our ambitions to become a net generator of green energy.
“We know our visitors will be delighted that The Orangery is reopening and it’s important that we thank every ticket and annual pass holder for supporting Blenheim Palace as this vital work couldn’t have been completed without your donations.”
Over the centuries, the Orangery has been utilised in many different ways. Firstly, as its name suggests, it was a greenhouse with large windows to create the perfect climate to support the growth of oranges and lemons over the winter months.
As the years passed, the Orangery has been transformed for various uses, including a theatre, offices, and art gallery, and is now a beautiful restaurant and a stunning venue to ‘wow’ guests during corporate sessions and nuptial celebrations.
Thanks to information from the Blenheim Palace archives, it is believed that The Orangery has now been returned to its original design before a fire broke out in 1861.