Originally a priory (pre 1233, dissolved 1529). By 1546 private residence. Remains of priory incorporated into cellars of current house. Buildings destroyed by fire in 1567. Sir John Thynne designed and built house in Elizabethan style and family occupied house from then to now. Robert Smythson thought to have had input into design.
Extensive formal grounds, changed from formal landscaping to less rigid, more natural structure with paths and driveways by Capability Brown in 1700s but part of planting dates back to 17c.
1670 Grand staircase and garden terrace created from designs by Sir Christopher Wren. .
Late 1808 Jeffry Wyatville demolished parts of house (including staircase designed by Wren). Replaced with galleries and current grand staircase. Refronted 1801 and 1811.
Style is Elizabethan prodigy house, home to Marquesses of Bath. House has been in Thynne family since 1575 and is still in family.
To deal with death duties and taxes, became first stately home to open to public in 1947. In 1964 opened Longleat Safari Park, first drive through safari park in UK.
Since then, considerably extended from the initial lions to include a wide variety of animals, attractions, accommodation, catering and events.
Some of the rooms are available for public viewing. Additionally on view are extensive artworks, furniture and books as well as costumes.
Family portraits hang alongside great works by the likes of Titian and Tintoretto.
An interesting property and a fine example of a stately home of its era where the main house and gardens have remained largely intact. Additional activites such as safari park, attractions, weddings etc. show how wealthy families have had to adapt to retain their magnificent residences and continue to live there. Longleat continues to thrive due to its careful transition through the centuries and into the 21st century. The current Viscount has even been reported as being a potential new venue for the nearby Glastonbury festival!