I chose to spend my birthday this year visiting an architectural masterpiece by Sir John Vanbrugh and Nicholas Hawksmoor. One of the Baroque qualities of Blenheim Palace is the way it incorporates a sense of movement. Here, the columns of the portico seem to punch skywards, right through the pediment and into the clouds. The building uses a mixture of Doric and Corinthian orders on the North Front – the Doric gives the building a martial quality, and the Corinthian, a touch of flamboyance.
I think it’s no surprise that this building is frequently likened to a theatrical stage set, although you have to stand in front of it to really appreciate how the facade acts like the flats that were used in 18th-century playhouses. There’s a constant game of hiding and revealing, as you move around the North Front, that’s like no other building I can think of.