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25th anniversary of Marlborough Maze

Blenheim Palace’s famous Marlborough Maze celebrates its 25th anniversary this month.

The hedge maze, which features more than 3,000 individual yew trees and covers an area of 1.8 acres, was first commissioned in 1987.

However it took four years for the hedges to grow and it actually opened to the public in 1991 – coinciding with the international Year of the Maze.

Designed by Adrian Fisher and Randoll Coate of Minotaur Design to celebrate the First Duke of Marlborough’s military victories, the maze features cannons, flags, banners and trumpets.

Much of the inspiration for the design came from stone sculptures depicting the Panoply of Victory, carved by Grinling Gibbons for the roof of Blenheim Palace.

Seen from above, the lines of the yew hedges portray pyramids of cannonballs, a cannon firing, and the air filled with banners, flags and the sound of trumpets.

The maze has two entrances to the left and right, with a central exit. Two wooden bridges create a three-dimensional puzzle, as well as giving tantalising views across parts of the world’s second largest symbolic hedge maze.

It also pays tribute to one of Blenheim Palace’s most famous former residents by incorporating a ‘V’ sign in honour of Winston Churchill, who was born at the palace.

According to the head gardener, Hilary Wood, it takes six people with hedge trimmers a week to prune the maze’s three kilometres of tapered yew hedges every October.

Home to the Dukes of Marlborough since 1722, Blenheim Palace was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. It is set in over 2,000 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped parkland.

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