The journey around the grounds of Longleat gives you some idea of the size of Lord Bath's estate.
The trip takes you around the lake that has a large island where two apes live. To keep them from getting bored they have their own TV complete with a remote control!
Lord Bath. To say that he is a little eccentric is something of an understatement. He has the appearance of a vagrant crossed with a dandy and affects a stacatto speech pattern that suggest an other-worldliness.
He is perhaps best well known as the owner of Longleat safari park, and for his colourful private life. He is married, with two grown up children, but continues to have sexual relationships with some abandon. Other with three of four women on the go at once, he happily refers to them as his 'wifelets'. I suppose we all have our vices.
On a slightler higher plane, whilst it is unlikely you will come across the man himself - you will get a chance to view some of his famous murals. Thgey adorn about 10 rooms of the stately home and have a colourful, childish but rakish air to them. Much like the man himself.
If you want a bit more background, and explanation to them, then get a special ticket from the Longleat house ticket office. They are free (you have paid for entrance to the house and grounds already) but limited in number.
All over the grounds of Longleat you will find some great works of art and statues.
Although the recent acquisistions of Lord Bath are... erm... open to interpretation I really enjoyed some of the older pieces, especially the nymphs on horseback, shown here.
Lord Bath was one of the first members of the aristocracy to take the dramatic step of opening up his house to the great plebian unwashed masses.
It's not surprising that many then followed suit - raising much needed cash to repair and prop up the crumbling relics.
You can currently see about one third of the house, with a few more rooms available on 'special' tours that run rather infrequently. Lord Bath and his (see other tip) 'housemates' live in the last, and much more modern third.
The sections that you can see include all the important public rooms : saloon, drawing rooms, grand staircases and libraries. The dress gallery seems to draw a good deal of interest. There is also a Victorian kitchen shop (i thought this bit was very well done) and a restaurant.
The architecture is very decidedly 'High Elizabethan'. You can almost imagine Kate Blanchett appearing from some dusty corner. The house is not however a 'museum piece', it has quite a lived in feel to it, and is spotted with some of Lord Bath's murals.
Longleat house operate a 'passport' system, whereby you can visit each of the attractions on the estate once - and you can do it on any day you like in a season. You can also by individual entry to each of the attractions for a few pounds each time.
I've already written about the house itself, the safari park, Postman pat's village and the boat ride - but there is more besides !
The minature railway runs by the lake, and makes an agreeable diversion. The 'old joes' mine' is somewhat disappointing 'bat experience'. The butterfly house does what it says on tin, as does the motion simulator and the children's fairground carousel.
The petting zoo is fairly well done, with a good range of animals and chances to handle the little critters (the aniumals not the children).
The passport ticket represents good value, especially if you can spread it over two days. On the other hand , once you have seen the house and the safari, the the rest of the attractions are not exactly in the same league.
There are also a couple of mazes - are rather simple mirror maze and a quite impressive 9it claims to be the world's largest) hedge maze.
The adventure playground is also well done, witha wide expanse of ropes, slides, mud and frames that should and over-active pre-teenager happy for a while.
Pet's corner gives kids of all ages the chance to get close to some wonderful animals - and some scary ones too!
Don't get too close to the parrots, their screeching hurts your ears.
The Butterfly House at Longleat is home to some amazingly colourful and very large butterflies. You can also see the cocoons which are much bigger than I expected.