Having hosted everyone from Hamlet to the Hairy Bikers, via Harry Potter, Blenheim has been welcoming Hollywood and Bollywood for nearly 50 years.
A visit to Blenheim palace is always a pleasure and a treat, but until 1st April 2013 we have been given an extra reason to venture to Woodstock. Lights, Camera, Action is the latest exhibition at the stately home, offering wonderful insight into Blenheim the film set through the decades.
The exhibition consisting of photos, film reels, props and costumes is spread through parts of the grounds, Pleasure Gardens and of course the palace, for visitors to view at their leisure. Inside the palace, small exhibits have been erected in each of the state rooms, with information and artefacts relating to individual productions that were filmed inside the corresponding room. Two larger set piece exhibits in a dining room and the long library allow the viewer to get further to the heart of the action, surrounded by stunning costumes and original 1950s cameras.
I would, however, highly recommend turning up for one of the tours given twice daily - 12 and 3pm - from the palace front door. Regaling us with first hand stories of which stars were friendly, moody or didn't know their lines, accompanied with some of his own personal photographs, our tour guide Richard Cragg was what really brought the exhibition to life. The engaging, dead-pan Mr Cragg offered stories of how Kenneth Branagh ruined the grass with fake snow and The Young Victoria damaged ornate tiles with carpet glue, and could boast of having snuck into 1.5 seconds of Climbing Britain's Buildings. His clear passion for Blenheim Palace, combined with a keen interest in film meant that he was the perfect candidate for a tour guide.
For Oxfordshire cinephiles the exhibition is a must, though equally fascinating for everyone else. The films you are familiar with are brought to life at Blenheim, and those you haven't seen, you'll want to watch. The exhibition runs until 1st April and is included with the price of a Palace, Park and Gardens ticket.