A triumphal arch leads up to the palace from Park Street, in the town of Woodstock, symbolizing the Duke's great victory at the Battle of Blenheim (1704). The palace itself was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh and, in 1874, became the birthplace of the Duke's famous descendant, Winston Churchill, whose life and times are commemorated by a permanent exhibition within the palace.
Marlborough and Vanbrugh got on well, but, since Marlborough was often away, it fell to his duchess, Sarah Churchill, to deal with the architect on a day-to-day basis. Sarah did not see eye to eye with Vanbrugh on the design. His grandiose ideas did not fit in with her practicality. She wanted a family home; he was designing a national monument. One point of disagreement was the fate of the former Woodstock Palace. Sarah wanted the historic ruins demolished; Vanbrugh, an early conservationist, wanted them restored and made into a feature. Sarah eventually got her way.
Thanks to these disagreements and changes of plan, the cost of the building was steadily mounting, and work stopped altogether in 1712. It was resumed when the Churchills returned from their continental exile, on the accession of King George I in 1714. Marlborough took the decision to carry on the work with his own money, and most of his existing debts had to be written off. Although the duke and duchess moved into the palace, it was not completed until after the duke's death. In 1730, Sarah commissioned a joint tomb for the chapel, and her husband's body was returned there from Westminster Abbey.