The estate was named after the stream of Long Leat, (a leat is an artificial waterway built to feed a watermill for example) and was bought by Sir John Thynne in 1568 following the dissolution of the monasteries by King Henry VIII. The house has been home to the same family since it was built.
After Sir John spent a huge sum of money on altering the house (£8,016), it has remained remarkably unchanged since 1580. Longleat House is an example of the earliest and most complete Renaissance house in England. The architect, Robert Smythson, built a house which abandons most of the features of the traditional English medieval manor, but instead is symmetrical in pattern and has large glass windows.
During the 18th century the Thynnes’ acquired the title of Viscount Weymouth, such was their wealth and social standing.
Thomas Thynne’s son, by Louisa, also called Thomas Thynne became the first Marquess of Bath.
Are there other ghosts at Longleat?
Sir John Thynne
The Red Library is reputed to be haunted by an elderly gentleman dressed in black.
A bishop who hid in the house during the persecution of the Catholics is said to haunt the main library.
In addtion, a Cavalier and Sir John Thynne, who built the house, are also reputed to have been seen
Maybe you can find out about some strange goings on in the elephant house in the park.
What is Longleat like today?
Longleat House today
Longleat is a splendid stately home, famous for its architecture as well as its lovely landscaped gardens, designed by the renowned Capability Brown.
It is open to the public and has become a major tourist attraction. Part of the park is a drive through safari with a variety of wild animals usually associated with Africa and Asia. It also has an adventure playground and a very large hedge maze