A visit to Longleat House
Open on selected dates between February and November
Longleat House is widely regarded as one of the most impressive Elizabethan houses in England and one of the most beautiful stately homes open to the public.
Substantially complete by 1580 and now home to the 7th Marquess of Bath, Longleat House is set in 900 acres of stunning 'Capability' Brown landscaped parkland... a far cry from the run-down priory, 60 acres of land, rabbit waren and orchard which were purchased by John Thynne in 1540 for just £53!
The house has evolved through the centuries as each owner has added their own personal touch - from the introduction of symmetrical, formal gardens by the 1st Viscount, to the creation of the hugely fashionable 'Capability' Brown landscape, commissioned by the 3rd Viscount (who became the first Marquess of Bath) and most recently, the inclusion of a sequence of murals created by the current 7th Marquess, Alexander Thynn.
Longleat House opens fully for free-flow access at 12:00 during our main season which runs between February and October (for full details of our opening dates and times please look here>>) From 10:00 until midday we offer guided tours of the ground floor to a limited number of people, which incorporate some of Lord Bath's murals. At midday, the private apartments are closed and both floors of the public route are open on a free-flow basis.
During the winter season the house is transformed as part of the Festival of Light. If you want to discuss a visit to the house further please call us on 01985 845420.
Explore Longleat House
A visit to Longleat House is a treat for the whole family.
The house acts as a fabulously authentic back-drop to a collection of priceless antiques, exquisite artworks and a variety of expertly curated exhibitions. We have one of the largest book collections in Europe, with over 40,000 books preserved in seven libraries.
The stunning architecture, with towers, turrets and superb moulded ceilings, provide a unique glimpse into the prevailing tastes in home decor for the artistocracy - where more was most definitely, more.
Shakespeare 400th Anniversary – Still Searching for Shakespeare
To commemorate the 400th Anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, a display of rare artefacts connected to the bard is on display on the first floor of Longleat House until October.
“Still searching for Shakespeare” features a virtually unknown likeness of the poet created in 1704, which was derived from the famous Chandos Shakespeare which hangs in the National Gallery. Despite its age, our portrait remains in beautiful condition and provides a fascinating glimpse of the man himself.
Accompanying the portrait are several exquisite items from the Longleat library including two massive volumes of Boydell’s Collection of prints, from Pictures painted for the Purpose of Illustrating the Dramatic Works of Shakespeare, by the Artists of Great Britain (1805) and the Longleat copy of the First Folio published in 1623, one of only three surviving copies remaining in private hands.
The best known document in the Longleat archives, Henry Peacham’s Titus Andronicus drawing, the only surviving contemporary representation of a Shakespeare play in performance is also on display.
Longleat Safari Park 50th Anniversary Exhibition
‘It is advisable not to place your head in a lion’s mouth’
As it’s the 50th anniversary of our incredible Safari Park, the Great Hall is playing host to a display of original cartoons created in response to the controversy surrounding the opening of the Safari in 1966.
The cartoons showcased, focus on two basic but very different themes - the extraordinary lengths the 6th Marquess was prepared to go to make money and the possibility that the lions might eat visitors, including paying guests and a few unoffical visitors, or even members of the Thynne family.
‘Man, Tigers and Kangaroos’
Although we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of our amazing Safari Park, the tradition of keeping exotic animals at Longleat dates back, not 50 years, but over 250 years! And in many ways the 6th Marquess’s ambitious plan was continuing tradition rather than breaking it.
Based on new research, this exhibition explores the history of a menagerie created on the estate in the 1730s for the 2nd Viscount Weymouth to enjoy and a pheasantry which succeeded this in the 18th century. Records documenting the exchange of animals and birds, including Kangaroos and Great Bustards, with the royal menagerie at Kew will be on display for the first time, as well as evidence for the creation of a natural history museum at the Pheasantry.
In this year of anniversaries, our summer exhibition in the Red Library will mark the birth of ‘England’s greatest gardener’, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, in August 1716
Group Pleasure Walk
Longleat House is set in 900 acres of naturalistic landscape designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. The original gardens and areas of the parkland were redesigned and modernised by this revered landscape architect after 1757 when they were all replaced with a fine lawn, a serpentine river, wooded hills, and gravel paths meandering round a shrubbert - all of which you can see today.
A Brown landscape is best recognised through its use of planting in the form of pasture, enlivened with tree clumps, perimeter shelter belts and screens of trees. Obviously trees take time to mature, so in order that his designs could be appreciated during his patrons' lifetimes, Brown also invented a tree moving machine to transplant mature specimens. The resultant landscape is recognisably English parkland.
Enjoy a 1.5 hour tour with our private guide before indulging in a delicious cream tea in The Orangery.
Following this tour, you and your group can explore the magnificence of Longleat House.
- Guided tour of the Pleasure Walk followed by the Formal Gardens and finally, the Secret Garden
- House and Gardens Ticket
- Cream Tea in The Orangery
Price: £25 per person (when booked as part of a group).
Duration: House and Garden Ticket is valid for the day. Guided tour is 1.5 hours.
Dates: 1st May 2016 – 30th September 2016
Times: 10.30am, 12.30pm, 2.30pm
Call us on 01985 844328 or send us an email to book.
Guided Tours of Lord House take place every morning during normal Longleat open dates (up to 30th October) between 10.00 – 12.00.
From midday open access to the ground floor and first floor state rooms is available to all visitors with guides positioned in most of the rooms to help answer any questions on the house, the artefacts within it and its history. A helpful guidebook is also available.
Entry is included with a Day Ticket, House & Gardens Ticket or Annual Pass.
Please note that pushchairs are not allowed on tours of Longleat House, but can be left at the pushchair park situated at the front or rear of Longleat House. Hip seats can also be provided on request.
Please note that with the exception of the Great Hall, photography is not permitted in the house.
Private Chattels Tours
Most of the historic contents of Longleat House have been exempted from capital taxation because of their national heritage importance or because of their historical association with Longleat. The private tours give public access to those chattels (a legal term for tangible and moveable goods e.g. furniture, paintings and porcelain) which are not on the main visitor route, or shown on the daily morning tours of Longleat House.
2016 Private Chattels Tour Dates:
Monday 11th April
Monday 25th April
Friday 13th May
Tuesday 24th May
Thursday 16th June
Monday 4th July
Wednesday 7th September
Thursday 29th September
Monday 3rd October
Friday 21st October
Meeting point: Great Hall, Longleat House at 2.00p.m. Please allow up to 2 hours for tour duration.
Maximum 12 per tour. Cost £23.50 per person (apologies we cannot accomodate children on this tour).
Please note that tours must be booked at least 24 hours in advance (01985 845420 or in person at Longleat House).
A list of the private chattels which are available for public access can be seen by prior arrangement.
HHA Card Holders
Card holders are entitled to access Longleat House & Gardens on open dates until Sunday 30th October 2016. Please click here for opening dates and times. Please show your membership pass at the tolls on arrival and then again at the House in order for your details to be recorded.
Additional tickets need to be purchased to access Safari or Adventure Park attractions
For more information please contact 01985 845420.