Longleat is an English stately home and the seat of the Marquesses of Bath. It is a leading and early example of the Elizabethan prodigy house. It is adjacent to the village of Horningsham and near the towns of Warminster and Westbury in Wiltshire and Frome in Somerset. It is noted for its Elizabethan country house, maze, landscaped parkland and safari park. The house is set in 1,000 acres (400 ha) of parkland landscaped by Capability Brown, with 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) of let farmland and 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) of woodland, which includes a Center Parcs holiday village. It was the first stately home to open to the public, and the Longleat estate includes the first safari park outside Africa.
The house was built by Sir John Thynne and was designed mainly by Robert Smythson, after the original priory was destroyed by fire in 1567. It took 12 years to complete and is widely regarded as one of the finest examples of Elizabethan architecture in Britain. Longleat is occupied by Alexander Thynn, 7th Marquess of Bath, a direct descendant of the builder; however, the peer passed the management of the business to his son Viscount Weymouth early in 2010.
Longleat Safari Park opened in 1966 as the first drive-through safari park outside Africa, and is home to over 500 animals, including giraffe, monkeys, rhino, lion, tigers and wolves. Cheetahs are the most recent additions to the safari park with six having arrived in August 2011. Four lion cubs were born in September 2011, making a total of 10 cubs born that year, and Disney named two of them Simba and Nala as part of a co-promotion agreement for the upcoming Lion King 3D film.
Longleat House was built in the sixteenth century by Sir John Thynn on the site of a dissolved priory, and in 1949 became the first stately home in Britain to be opened to the public on a commercial basis. The house, park and attractions are open from mid-February to the start of November each year. The 9,800-acre estate, of which the park occupies 900 acres, has long been one of the top British tourist attractions, and has motivated other large landowners to generate income from their heritage in response to rising maintenance costs. Longleat leases 400 acres of land to Center Parcs for the operation of the Longleat Forest holiday village.
Longleat Hotels offers accommodation at the Bishopstrow Hotel & Spa and the Homewood Park Hotel & Spa. Located in Warminster, Wiltshire, the Bishopstrow Hotel & Spa is set within Bishopstrow House and surrounded by 18th-century gardens alongside the River Wylye. The Homewood Park Hotel & Spa is located in Homewood Park, Bath; Homewood Park is an award-winning, two AA-rosette Georgian country house hotel.