Longleat began life as the site of an Augustinian Priory and was purchased by the Duke of Somerset John Thynne in 1541. It has undergone many changes since then and has also served as a relief hospital during the First World War and during the Second was also the site of an American Hospital and an RAF depot. It was opened to the public in 1949. Its name derives from the long “lete” – man-made ditch to channel water – which used to supply the original priory.
Longleat is a spectacular Elizabethan House and many features inside the Great Hall are 16th century originals, including this lovely fireplace.
The Great Hall is also home to the waistcoat which Charles I was wearing when he was executed.
I really liked the Red Library (its name is derived from its wallpaper), in particular the ceiling which was designed in 1878 and is gilded and inset with cameos painted in black linen.
The Breakfast Room features another impressive ceiling, this time based on the Doges Palace in Venice and the table is laid out exactly as it was on the day the house was first opened to the public.
The nursery was a nice room
and included the Christening robes which would have been worn by the 4th Marchioness’ twins in 1867.
The Chinese bedroom, named after its painted non-repeating wallpaper, is particularly beautiful.
The Grand Staircase stands out as an impressive feature with its focus the wrought-iron chandelier which was made in the 19th century. The dome from which it can be lowered is also quite pretty.
It’s a lovely house with much more to see than just the highlights showcased here so it’s well worth ensuring you can spend some time there as well as at the Safari Park itself. There are more photos of the house here and of the grounds and Safari Park here.
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