Blenheim and the University of Oxford officially signed a formal agreement to work together on a series of new initiatives during a special ceremony at Blenheim Palace on Friday, 7th June. Blenheim Palace Chief Operating Officer Roger File joined Professor Patrick Grant, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Oxford University in signing the joint Memorandum of Understanding.
The aim of the new agreement is for both organisations to work together for their mutual benefit in the field of increasing their knowledge and understanding of the world through the Blenheim Estate. As well as an exchange of staff, students and materials between the two organisations they will also explore joint opportunities for collaboration on research programmes. The University and Blenheim are already working together on several projects on the Estate including an archaeological dig for the potential site of a villa near to the famous Roman Road and the use of robots from the Oxford Robotics Institute.
“This formalised agreement will allow us to further strengthen our long relationship with the University for the benefit of students and researchers,” said Blenheim’s Roger File.
“We share complementary interests in a range of fields relating to the Blenheim estate, including heritage, forestry and the environment, sustainability, and the Local Agenda and this will enable us to work more closely with each other,” he added.
As part of the official Memorandum of Understanding between Blenheim and the University, they will also explore opportunities to secure joint funding for research and development.
Professor Patrick Grant, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Oxford University, said: “This agreement opens up a whole host of potential areas of collaboration between Oxford University and Blenheim, building on our existing and longstanding relationship.
“In recent years we’ve seen scientists from the Oxford Robotics Institute run trials of autonomous vehicles on the Blenheim estate, and a team of Oxford archaeologists digging for potential Roman-era remains. I’m looking forward to seeing more of these exciting collaborations develop in the future,” he added.
The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s second oldest surviving university. While its exact founding date is unknown, there is evidence that teaching took place as far back as 1096. Located in and around Oxford’s medieval city centre, the university comprises 44 colleges and halls, and over 100 libraries, making it the largest library system in the UK. Students number around 22,000 in total, just over half of whom are undergraduates while over 40 per cent are international, representing 140 countries between them.
Home to the Dukes of Marlborough since 1704 and the birthplace of Winston Churchill, Blenheim is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a rich history dating back to prehistoric times. The 2,000-acre Estate has been occupied for nearly 5,000 years and is covered with Bronze Age barrows, Iron Age settlements, hillforts, Roman buildings and the old Akeman Street Roman road. It is also the site of Woodstock Palace, a royal residence which was the birthplace of the Black Prince and a prison for Queen Elizabeth I. It was visited by 16 British monarchs over its 700-year history with everyone from Ethelred the Unready to Henry VIII having spent time there prior to its demolition in the 18th century.