Longleat is an English stately home and the seat of the Marquesses of Bath. A leading and early example of the Elizabethan prodigy house, it is adjacent to the village of Horningsham and near the towns of Warminster and Westbury in Wiltshire, and Frome in Somerset.

Longleat Safari & Adventure Park 24-09-2013 (15365336801).jpg
The façade of Longleat House
Longleat is located in Wiltshire
Location within Wiltshire
General information
Architectural styleElizabethan
LocationWiltshire, England
Coordinates51°11′09″N 2°16′27″W / 51.1857°N 2.2743°W / 51.1857; -2.2743Coordinates: 51°11′09″N 2°16′27″W / 51.1857°N 2.2743°W / 51.1857; -2.2743
Construction started1568
ClientJohn Thynne
Design and construction
Architect(s)Robert Smythson
DesignationsGrade I listed building

The Grade I listed house is set in 1,000 acres (400 ha) of parkland landscaped by Capability Brown, with 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) of let farmland and 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) of woodland, which includes a Center Parcs holiday village.[1] It was the first stately home to open to the public, and the Longleat estate has the first safari park outside Africa and other attractions including a hedge maze.

The house was built by Sir John Thynne and designed mainly by Robert Smythson, after Longleat Priory was destroyed by fire in 1567. It took 12 years to complete and is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of Elizabethan architecture in Britain. It continues to be the seat of the Thynn family, who have held the title of Marquess of Bath since 1789; the eighth and present Marquess is Ceawlin Thynn.

Longleat House and the ThynnesEdit

A View of Longleat, Jan Siberechts, 1675
Drawing of Longleat from the early 18th century by Leonard Knyff
View towards Longleat House

Longleat was previously an Augustinian priory. The name comes from "leat", an artificial waterway or channel such as that which supplies a watermill.

Sir Charles Appleton (1515–1580) purchased Longleat for Sir John Thynn in 1541 for £53. Appleton was a builder with experience gained from working on The Old School Baltonsborough, Bedwyn Broil and Somerset House. In April 1567 the original house caught fire and burnt down. A replacement house was effectively completed by 1580. Adrian Gaunt, Alan Maynard, Robert Smythson, the Earl of Hertford and Humpfrey Lovell all contributed to the new building but most of the design was Sir John's work. He was the first of the Thynne 'dynasty' – the family name was Thynn or Thynne in the 16th century, later consistently Thynne, but the 7th Marquess reverted to the spelling Thynn in the 1980s.

Sir John Thynne's descendants were:

The house is still used as the private residence of the Thynn family. The house was designated as Grade I listed in 1968.[4] The formal gardens, pleasure grounds and parkland were listed Grade I on the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in 1987.[5]

Longleat House tourEdit

The tour of the house comprises:

  • The Elizabethan Great Hall, with a minstrels' gallery
  • The lower east corridor, a wide room originally used as servant access to the main rooms. This now holds fine furniture and paintings. Also on display are two visitor books, one showing the signatures of Elizabeth II and Philip, the other Albert (George VI) and Elizabeth (the Queen Mother).
  • The ante-library, with a magnificent Venetian painting on the ceiling
  • The Red Library, which displays many of the 40,000 books in the house
  • The Breakfast Room, with a ceiling to match the ante-library
  • The Lower Dining Room
  • Stairs up, past a display of large early Meissen porcelain animals
  • The bathroom and bath-bedroom: the bath is a lead-lined tub of coopered construction, originally filled by hand from buckets and drained the same way; taps and drains are now provided. The lead lining was replaced in 2005. The room holds the first plumbed-in flush lavatory in the house.
  • The State Dining Room, with a Meissen porcelain table centrepiece
  • The Saloon
  • The State Drawing Room, designed by Crace
  • The Robes Corridor
  • The Chinese Bedroom
  • The Music Room, with instruments including a barrel organ
  • The Prince of Wales Bedroom, so named because of a large painting of Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, the brother of Charles I
  • The upper west corridor
  • The Grand Staircase
  • The banqueting suite on the top floor: the furniture and interiors designed by Claire Rendall,[6] the dining table commissioned from John Makepeace and the chandelier from Jocelyn Burton

Events and filmingEdit

  • In the 1959 film Libel, Longleat is used as the estate of Dirk Bogarde's character.
  • Several episodes of the BBC science-fiction television series Doctor Who were filmed at Longleat, and for 30 years a Doctor Who Exhibition was hosted on the grounds.[7] A major event celebrating the series's 20th anniversary was also held at the house at Easter 1983.
  • The 2000 Indian Hindi film Mohabbatein was filmed at Longleat, which served as the location for a school in the film.[8][9]
  • Longleat staged the Red Bull Air Race in 2005.
  • It was transformed into 'Memory Manor', a laboratory to explore memory skills and the working of the brain for the 2006 BBC show How to Improve Your Memory.[10]
  • A copy of the painting The Fallen Madonna, a running joke from the BBC television sitcom 'Allo 'Allo, was made for Henry Thynne and hangs in Longleat House.[11]
  • The nature programme Animal Park is filmed at the park.[citation needed]

Longleat WoodsEdit

Longleat Woods (grid reference ST795435) is a 249.9 ha (618 acres) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Somerset, notified in 1972.

Longleat Forest is also home to Center Parcs Longleat Forest, a holiday resort.

Visitor attractionsEdit

Car admission sticker for Longleat, c1968
Longleat maze

Longleat Safari Park opened in 1966 as the first drive-through safari park outside Africa,[12][13] and is home to over 500 animals, including Rothschild's giraffes, Grant's zebras, Rhesus monkeys, rhinos, African lions, Amur tigers and grey wolves.[14][15] Cheetahs, koalas and spotted hyenas are among the most recent additions to the safari park. Four lion cubs were born in September 2011, making a total of 10 cubs born that year, and Disney named two of them Simba and Nala as part of a co-promotion agreement for the upcoming Lion King 3D film.[16]

Longleat House was built in the sixteenth century by Sir John Thynn on the site of a dissolved priory, and in 1949 became the first stately home in Britain to be opened to the public on a commercial basis.[17][18] The house, park and attractions are open from mid-February to the start of November each year.[19] The 9,800-acre estate, of which the park occupies 900 acres, has long been one of the top British tourist attractions, and has motivated other large landowners to generate income from their heritage in response to rising maintenance costs.[20][21] Longleat leases 400 acres of land to Center Parcs for the operation of the Longleat Forest holiday village.[22]

The Longleat hedge maze is considered the world's longest, with 1.69 miles of pathway. The layout was by maze designer Greg Bright.[23] Over 16,000 English yews form the walls surrounding a central tower, and there are six raised footbridges.[24]


  1. ^ "Spend a day at Longleat". BBC. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  2. ^ Hartley, Cathy (15 April 2013). A Historical Dictionary of British Women. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-35533-3.
  3. ^ The Green Lady of Fyvie Castle
  4. ^ Historic England. "Longleat House (1364361)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 4 February 2022.
  5. ^ Historic England. "Longleat: parks and gardens (1000439)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  6. ^ "Longleat House Interiors". Claire Rendall. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  7. ^ "Dr Who Exhibition, Longleat". THE DOCTOR WHO EXHIBITIONS ARCHIVE. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  8. ^ "5 Times Bollywood Tried Hard To Make Us Believe These Locations Were In India". iDiva. 15 October 2021. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  9. ^ "Mohabbatein Movie Shooting Locations". Filmapia. Retrieved 22 April 2022.
  10. ^ How to Improve Your Memory, shown 9 August 2006, BBC One. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
  11. ^ Say ‘Allo’ to new Longleat feature, Wiltshire Times, 16 December 2005. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
  12. ^ "The lions and loins of Longleat". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  13. ^ New Scientist, 2 December 1982, p. 554, at Google Books. Retrieved 15 December 2011.
  14. ^ "Longleat Safari Park, Wiltshire". Tourist Information UK. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  15. ^ Picture The UK
  16. ^ "Longleat lion cubs named". Heart.co.uk. 6 October 2011. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  17. ^ Stately-Homes.com
  18. ^ UKTV
  19. ^ "Opening Dates and Times - Longleat Safari & Adventure Park". Archived from the original on 19 February 2011.
  20. ^ Visit Bath
  21. ^ "Environment: News & features". The Daily Telegraph. 24 June 2018. Archived from the original on 26 April 2011. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  22. ^ Warminster People
  23. ^ Eliot, Henry (2019). Follow This Thread: A Maze Book to Get Lost In. Crown. ISBN 978-1984824448.
  24. ^ "Longleat Hedge Maze". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  25. ^ Burke, Sir Bernard, (1938 ed) Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage. Shaw, London. p. 243
  26. ^ a b c Woodfall, H. (1768). The Peerage of England; Containing a Genealogical and Historical Account of All the Peers of that Kingdom Etc. Fourth Edition, Carefully Corrected, and Continued to the Present Time, Volume 6. p. 258.
  27. ^ a b Lee, Sidney; Edwards, A. S. G. (revised) (2004). "Thynne, William (d. 1546)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/27426. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  28. ^ Girouard, Mark, Thynne, Sir John (1515–1580), estate manager and builder of Longleat in Oxford Dictionary of Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004)
  29. ^ Booth, Muriel. "Thynne, John (?1550–1604), of Longleat, Wilts". History of Parliament. The History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  30. ^ Lancaster, Henry; Thrush, Andrew. "Thynne, Charles (c.1568–1652), of Cheddar, Som". History of Parliament. The History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  31. ^ Pugh, R. B.; Crittall, Elizabeth, eds. (1957). "Parliamentary history: 1529–1629". A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 5. British History Online. London: Victoria County History.
  32. ^ Ferris, John P. "Thynne, Sir James (c.1605-70), of Longbridge Deverill, Wilts". History of Parliament. The History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  33. ^ Helms, M. W.; Ferris, John P. "Thynne, Sir Thomas (c.1610–c.69), of Richmond, Surr". History of Parliament. The History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  34. ^ Marshall, Alan (2008) [2004]. "Thynne, Thomas [nicknamed Tom of Ten Thousand] (1647/8–1682)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/27423. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  35. ^ Heath-Caldwell, J. J. "Thomas Thynne, 1st Marquess of Bath, 3rd Viscount Weymouth". JJ Heath-Caldwell. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  36. ^ Hayton, D. W. "Thynne, Hon. Henry (1675-1708)". The History of Parliament. The History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  37. ^ Dunaway, Stewart (2013). Lord John Carteret, Earl Granville: His Life History and the Granville Grants. Lulu. p. 33. ISBN 9781300878070.
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  39. ^ Thorne, Roland. "Carteret [formerly Thynne], Henry Frederick". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  40. ^ "Thomas Thynne, 2nd Marquess of Bath (1765–1837)". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  41. ^ Escott, Margaret. "Thynne, Lord Henry Frederick (1797-1837), of 6 Grovesnor Square, Mdx". History of Parliament. The History of Parliament Trust. Retrieved 2 January 2016.
  42. ^ "John Thynne, 4th Marquess of Bath (1831-1896), Diplomat and landowner". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 2 January 2016.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Longleat at Wikimedia Commons