Capability Brown’s ambitious masterpiece

The Blenheim Estate has  more than 2,000 acres of woodland, park, Formal Gardens, meadows and lakes which are home to a huge diversity of wildlife.

.A recent survey of just one section of its ancient oak woodland revealed more than 120 listed or notable species. These included otters, badgers, water voles, three different types of bat, osprey, red kites, lizards, great crested newts, grass snakes, adders and stag beetles.

 Among more than 30 different types of birds identified were snipe, kingfishers, terns, spotted flycatchers, bramblings, sandpipers, swifts and swallows.

 The parkland, much of which has remained virtually undisturbed for centuries, is also home to one of the largest concentrations of ancient oak trees anywhere in Europe – the oldest specimen is believed to date back to before the Norman Conquest in 1066.

 The Great Lake and Queen Pool, which were created by Capability Brown in the 18th century are a vital staging post for many migratory birds as well as being a permanent base for herons, grebes, ducks, geese and swans.

 The grounds also provide the perfect habitat for dozens of increasingly rare wild flowers along with thousands of native and more exotic trees and shrubs; many of them planted as part of Capability Brown’s hugely ambitious re-designs.

Closer to the Palace for the plant and flower lovers there’s the majestic Water Terraces, the Duke’s Private Italian Garden, the tranquil Secret Garden, with all of its hidden treasures, the new Churchill Memorial Garden and the beautifully delicate Rose Garden.

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