A series of vaults have been discovered at Blenheim Palace during a large-scale restoration project. The £350,000 project, which has focused on the historic North Steps of the Palace, had been planned after a survey showed that the flight of stone steps were moving away from the main structure.
In order to restore the steps, they were carefully removed to reinstate the underlying substrate, which consequently led to the discovery of three vaults below. The ‘vaulted voids’ were acting as supports for the steps above it.
“It was a surprise to find these empty/unused spaces below the steps; each vault is covered in fine thin stalactites created by the trickle of water through the closed environment over the centuries,” said Richard Bowden, Historic Buildings & Conservation Surveyor at Blenheim Palace.
“No objects or artefacts were discovered and other than for structural reasons the actual purpose is not immediately apparent; although further investigations are scheduled. Now that work is completed the North Steps are fully re-opened to visitors and the historic entranceway to the Palace is back in operation,” he added.
The restoration of the steps is a part of an ongoing programme of conservation and restoration of Blenheim Palace.
Blenheim Palace plays host to BBC Countryfile Live this summer. See more here