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Longleat House Review

Home of the Marquess of Bath, Longleat House is one of southern England's most famous private estates, and possibly the most ambitiously, even eccentrically, commercialized, as evidenced by the presence of a drive-through safari park (open since 1966) with giraffes, zebras, monkeys, rhinos, and lions. The Italian Renaissance-style building was largely completed in 1580 (for more than £8,000, an astronomical sum at the time) and contains outstanding tapestries, paintings, porcelain, and furniture, as well as notable period features such as the Victorian kitchens, an Elizabethan minstrels' gallery, and the great hall with its massive wooden beams. Giant antlers of the extinct Irish elk decorate the walls, as do the present marquess's occasionally raunchy murals—described as "keyhole glimpses into my psyche" that range from philosophical subjects to depictions of the Kama Sutra. Besides the safari park, Longleat has a butterfly garden, a miniature railway, an extensive (and fairly fiendish) hedge maze, and an adventure castle, all of which make it extremely popular, particularly in summer and during school vacations. You can easily spend a whole day here. Visit the house in the morning, when tours are more relaxed, and the safari park in the afternoon. A safari bus service is available (£4) for those arriving without their own transport.

    Contact Information

  • Address: Off A362, Warminster, BA12 7NW
  • Phone: 01985/844400
  • Cost: £29.50; house and grounds only, £14.50
  • Hours: Mar., daily 10–5; Apr.–mid-July and mid-Sept.–late Oct., daily 10–6; late July–early Sept., daily 10–7:30; Nov. and Dec., call in advance
  • Website:
  • Location: Longleat House
Updated: 06-10-2013

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