When it opened its doors to the public in 1949, and its Capability Brown grounds to the lions in 1966, Longleat was in the vanguard of the movement to put England’s stately homes on a commercial footing.
The vast house was substantially complete by 1580 and is a fine example of high Elizabethan architecture - the Staterooms being simply magnificent.
The ever-colourful Thynne family, better known as the Marquesses of Bath, has been in continuous residence for 12 generations, and certainly moves with the times. Longleat Centre Parcs opened in 1994, and hosted by Kate Humble, the BBC’s Animal Park has been filmed in the Safari Park since 2001.
By Peter Swain, 23 March 2011