Home On The Range

Where The Buffalo Roams…Or The Lions?

Chris Ambrose

 Such a beauty…Right? 

Do you remember the lyrics of Home On The Range? I do, and this park makes me remember my childhood memories. But instead of buffalo, at the Longleat Park, it is where you will find the mighty lions that roam, but not the buffalo.

Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam

Where the deer and the antelope play

Where seldom is heard a discouraging word

And the skies are not cloudy all day

Oh Home, home on the range…

FYI: Home on the Range, is a classic western folk song sometimes called the unofficial anthem of the American West. The lyrics were originally written by Dr. Brewster M. Higley of Smith County, Kansas, in a poem entitled My Western Home in 1872. In 1947, it became the state song of the U.S. state of Kansas. Wikipedia

However, shall we step back in history, and share a bit of history of how this property  came to be a world class tourist attraction?

Longleat House 

Longleat House, was the first of its kind being a home of dignity and a magnificent country house, that opened its doors to the public. It is located near the town of Warminster, in the county of Wiltshire. It has a long history leading back to 1540, when it was purchased, together with the surrounding land, by Sir John Thynn. However, it unfortunately was burnt down in 1567. It was rebuilt by Sir John with the assistance of prominent architects and the Earl of Hertford. It was finished by 1580. As the years past by the nobles inheriting the estate made various modifications to the house and grounds.

Thomas Thynne, the 1st Viscount Weymouth , amassed a large book collection in the house and also created formal gardens with the help of landscapers. He must have lived a busy life, as in 1707, he founded a boys grammar school in the nearby town of Warminster which was later known as Lord Weymouth School. Sixty-six years later in 1973, the school merged with St. Monica’s School for girls to become known as the  Warminster School.

His  son and heir , another Thomas, inherited the title 2nd Viscount Weymouth. He married Louisa Carteret who’s ghost is reputed to haunt the house. The following heir, another Thomas, who was the first to bear the Marquess title, went one step further than his predecessors by hiring the famous Capability Brown to change the formal gardens into a landscaped park with additional entrance roads and picturesque drives.

In WW1 the house was used as a hospital to help wounded soldiers and in WW2 it was used as a school for the daughters of officers.

In 1947, Henry Frederick Thynn had to sell a significant portion of the estate to pay for death duties and in order to make it viable he decided to open the house up to the public.

The mazes were designed by the 7th Marquess of Bath, Alexander Thynn. Unfortunately if visiting the maze, understand that it is not accessible to wheelchairs orstrollers (pushchairs, an-English term for strollers). It is the longest hedge maze in the world. 

Niki Odolphie from Frome, England [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)] 

This maze was added to the Longleat estate in 1975 and while it is not the largest maze, it is the longest in the world and the biggest in Britain. I cannot even image the upkeep it would take for 16,000 English yew trees. It’s said to take approximately thirty minutes to find your way to the middle!

Fun Facts:

  • 1959, The film ‘Libel’, in which Longleat is utilized as an estate location for Dirk Bogarde’s character
  • It was used for the film location for ‘Mohabbatein’ and nature program ‘Animal Park’
  • The estate being transformed into ‘Memory Manor’ for a memory skills program on the BBC, and the location for the Red Bull Air Race in 2005.
  • The house itself is packed with antiques and important artifacts from history.
  • There is a ghostly vision of Louisa that floats throughout the house and visits many of the tours that are presented in the property.
  • The libraries in the house are popular with a total of over 40,000 books recorded in possession, which is one of the largest private book collections in Europe.
  • Longleat is recorded as having In the Great Hall of Longleat, the waistcoat worn by King Charles I, at his execution in 1649, is on display and still has the blood-stained silk sleeves intact.
  • In the Great Hall, visitors can take awe in two painted portraits that come to life.
  • The Longleat house and adventure park is open daily between 21st March through until 3rd November, and they are open Friday to Monday from 28th February through to 17th March.

Warnings or Special Instructions for visitors:

  • Do not stray into cordoned off areas.
  • Do not sit or picnic under trees.
  • Under no circumstances should anything be picked or eaten from the grounds or gardens.
  • The use of barbecues within Longleat Estate is strictly prohibited.
  • Drone usage is not permitted at Longleat.
  • The use of scooters and hoverboards is prohibited throughout the Longleat Estate. Soft top cars and motorbikes etc., are not allowed in the Safari Drive-Through.
  • No dogs are allowed-not even service animals for their own safety sake.

The story here is that this park has so much to offer, you will even find a Jungle Cruise, Monkey Temple, Jungle Kingdom and a railway that becomes a Santa train during the holidays. A fun vacation to be enjoyed by any age but please remember, safety is your first priority. 

Our lions are yet another part of this extraordinary adventure. 

How would you like to look out  of your car window and stare into these eyes and down his throat?

On July 1966, the first African Safari opened at Longleat Park, located in Englandwith 50 lions on 100 acres. which was the idea of Jimmy Chipperfield of Chipperfield’s Circus, and the first safari park to be founded outside of Africa. If you would like to experience a true African experience, cottages are available to rent around the property. You can be invigorated by the rising sun above the African Village, making you feel as though you were actually in Africa.

Indeed these handsome creatures are a sight  to see. But, right off, before continuing my story, I want to tell you that you must never think for one second, they are tame or a pet…never ever do you approach them, drive through the park with your window down or attempt to feed them. It could cost you your life. Nonetheless, if you remember to respect the fact they are wild animals and of the strength these powerful creatures possess, it is a tour you should not miss. Just imagine, that there would be no need to travel to Africa, and take a safari tour! It is right here in England where you could literally be within two feet of such a massive hunter of nature, yet be perfectly safe! Just remember that you do not roll down your windows, no matter how tempting it may seem!

The drive through will take from two to three hours to completely experience what it has to offer in this famous parkland. 

I hope you have enjoyed this delightful adventure from my homeland of England and will return next month where we will pick up a few miles down the road when we will get back to hiking in my October Blog. This journey was not for walkin’ but get your boots ready for the next escapade!



If there is anything you want to suggest as a topic, for my blog, then please share those ideas with me, by E-mailing them to: C.Ambrose.MamieAuthors@gmail.com  

Until We Meet Again!,


Chris Ambrose, Author 

70 is the new 50`

My Boots Are Made For Walkin

No matter what Life throws at you, 

it’s where Giving Up, is Never an Option!



You are also welcome to write to me for a signed copy of my book


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