Ben Fogle and Kate Humble explore life behind the scenes at Longleat Estate and Safari Park. Lord Bath wants to decorate the Great Hall in Longleat House.
Browse content similar to Episode 11. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Hello and welcome to Animal Park. I'm Kate Humble.
I'm Ben Fogle, and we're in the beautiful gardens surrounding Longleat House.
This is Lime Tree Walk. The plan was for the trees to be planted on either side of the path over there,
but someone made a mistake and they ended up like this.
Walking along it today, it's hard to believe it wasn't always supposed to look like this.
We'll be bringing you stories from the estate and the safari park including...
Winky the one-wheeled tortoise has been in a bash.
Now she needs roadside assistance.
We've set up a special spy cam to find out what the wolves make of an unusual pong.
But I'm just gonna take the cam for a second!
'And when we venture onto the mudflats to try to get the flamingos to breed,
'the Animal Park crew get that sinking feeling.'
But first, we've heard that there's been an exciting development up at the camel house.
I am going to just open the door to find keeper Kevin Nibbs
and a couple of Bactrian camels.
What happened this morning, Kevin?
Some time during the night, we've had another baby, this little white one down here.
Oh, look... Wow!
So Mum is?
Mum is Raisha and it was a bit of a surprise a few weeks ago that we found out she was pregnant,
-because the father, Khan, he was only four years old when he mated her.
Which is more than a year younger than he would be sexually mature,
so it was a bit of a surprise.
This morning, we found this little white thing, which is fantastic.
-The all-important question, has he or she fed yet?
-She has, yes.
She's done everything perfectly,
as opposed to with Elvis, the other one there,
she was up in hours, feeding all by herself within just a few hours, which is fantastic.
-And Elvis and...who's his mum?
Did they seem concerned to have another little one in here?
Are they being protective? Barley's coming over quite a lot.
Yeah, I don't think it's protective, they're very curious of another one in the house, really.
They're all getting on fairly well at the moment.
Maybe Elvis is a little bit worried about what it is,
but give it a few hours and they'll be best friends. It's a good playmate for him, really.
Did you find, Elvis, obviously being male, this new little one being female...
Oi, oi! That's no way to behave!
Do you find, like people say with human children, that girls develop faster than boys?
Do you think that, now you've got this direct comparison here,
would you say the same is true for Bactrian camels?
I would say, yes. Definitely yes.
The little female calf, she's almost as big as Elvis is now, and he's three weeks old.
I think she'll develop a whole lot quicker than Elvis did, anyway.
Very, very exciting, and great news for this species, because they're aren't many Bactrian camels left.
There's maybe less than 1,000 in the wild.
Any female birth is fantastic.
-Though Elvis was good, a female is even better.
I think, we're getting the message, which is, "Clear out of here and leave us with our babies."
Kevin, great news. Thank you very much
and we look forward to seeing her up and about out in the park.
Up in Longleat House, there's a plan afoot to do something very radical to the Great Hall.
This is the largest room in the house,
and one of the few parts to have survived, almost unaltered,
since the place was built by Sir John Thynne during the reign of Elizabeth I.
But the Great Hall has changed in one fundamental way,
because back in Tudor times, when you walked in here, you would have been faced with a riot of colour.
Longleat's curator of historic collections, Kate Harris,
has investigated how the room was first decorated.
It was the room that impressed anybody first when they arrived.
It showed how important you were.
Who you were. The house is covered in heraldry so it shows who your patrons and friends were.
Originally, the Great Hall was more than a reception area, it was at the heart of the Tudor house.
A magnificent room for eating and entertaining.
The Great Screen is made of wood and the walls are covered with panelling,
but despite appearances, what we see today is not the natural surface of that wood.
In fact, almost all the brown you can see is paint.
I think the current sludge brown is almost at the opposite end of the colour scheme of the original hall.
The 16th-century scheme was revealed as very sophisticated,
built up of many layers,
so there's an undercoat of dark stain in the bottom half of the screen,
followed by colour, followed by glazes.
Its appearance would have been much more sophisticated.
The sludge-brown paint was first applied in Victorian times,
and recently, one small section was stripped back by conservators
to find traces of the original colours.
There's an olive-green, there's a pale blue,
there's a darker blue, then the graining on top.
The brown paint is particularly unfortunate,
when you remember that this is, after all, the home of Alexander Thynne, the 7th Marquess of Bath.
As an artist and a dresser, there's no denying that Lord Bath is a big fan of colour.
And now he's desperate to see a bit more of it on the walls of the Great Hall.
He's teamed up with interior designer Claire Rendall,
to come up with his own personal take on that Tudor pizzazz.
It would have been impressive, have had fabulous colours, gilding.
It would've been something really glamorous and very bright,
and what the Victorians tended to do was slap a load of brown paint on,
clean all the stone. They've done it with churches, public meeting places
and they've done it with a lot of stately homes.
Because Longleat is a heritage treasure of international significance,
Lord Bath is not actually allowed to make big changes to the decor.
But Claire has come up with an ingenious plan to help him indulge his decorative vision.
So what we're going to do today is take a digital photograph of the Great Hall,
and then we're going to digitally enhance that using the computer,
and Lord Bath is going to choose his own colours.
It won't be as it would've been when John Thynne had the house, but it'll be the present Marquess's choice,
and will give visitors a sense of how the Great Hall would have looked when it was coloured.
It'll be truer to the Elizabethan theme.
-The kind of colours that I'm talking about...
If you hold it...
I'm feeling we've lost out. What the Elizabethans would've had is a colourful Great Hall.
I wanting to get back to colourful,
yet keep the spirit of it being contemporary,
but be bold in choosing the colours.
What about gilding and silver...?
There would have been, I would imagine, just to catch the light in the evenings,
because Sir John would have wanted to show off, wouldn't he?
-I'm wondering if he would have smacked a lot of gold leaf on.
If you find the ribbons in her hair, something of that nature,
-but not to overdo the gold.
-No, just to really bring it out.
Lord Bath has lived here for much of his 74 years,
and he's never seen this room decorated in any other scheme.
Claire's digital photo idea has already got his creative juices flowing.
I would like to choose colours going over the panels, the rings round, etc, etc,
in contrasting colours around the rainbow, and also to bring out the stonework in colour.
If Lord Bath had his way, he'd have the paintbrush out and he'd be painting it as he wanted to,
but as an historic building, he can't. Which is a shame. It'd be interesting.
We'll be back later to see just what Lord Bath comes up with
and whether it really is a shame that he's not allowed to redecorate the Great Hall.
I'm out in Wolf Wood with keeper Bob Trollope and head of section Brian Kent.
You've done something unusual. You've put down some red deer poo in their enclosure.
Why have you done that, Bob?
A continuation of the enrichment that we do here. So it's scent enrichment.
It's something that, if they were in the wild, they'd naturally come across.
But because they don't here, we put it in there to see what reaction we get.
What we've done to get an even closer view of the wolves here,
if you just pan back, you will see expert cameraman Andy Milk
looking very focused there.
Andy has hidden a little camera which we're calling wolf cam,
which, hopefully, will get a very close view, or perspective, of the wolves.
This is the screen that we're gonna be watching it on.
What are you hoping to see, Brian?
I'm hoping for the wolves to come over and investigate and have a sniff around,
but they're a bit wary at the moment. More than likely roll around in it.
-Like a dog would do to mark themselves?
If you just stop there, Andy,
we have a very nice view of our poo, but no wolves.
I don't know how long it's gonna be, but they're not very far away.
They're by the Land Rover at the moment.
-Who's this one right outside here?
-This is Zeva.
-And is she the lowest in the pecking order now?
-Yes. There's a few more around.
He's instantly attracted to the smell of the deer poo.
Which we can just see now. Look at that, coming right up.
-Oh, look, he's actually picking it up.
-He's trying to bite it.
Is that seeing what it is exactly?
Oh, it's taking some away.
If we were to leave right now, most of them would come straight in.
So they're a bit wary of us being this close?
-Who's the second one coming in now?
-So this is the lowest in the hierarchy?
-She's used to be the top dog.
But we had a younger female come up through the ranks,
which would be a natural progression.
-That's what would happen...?
-In the pack.
Freda, the one that took over as alpha, is just there.
-She's not very far away.
-Andy, can we zoom in?
Look at those eyes.
You often hear about wolf eyes.
Again, she's just sniffing through it.
-None of them have rolled in it yet.
In the wild, they would scavenge if they couldn't find any prey as such,
and there could be some nourishment in that.
That's why she's having a root around in it.
It is amazing to see the wolves this close.
That's a fantastic shot. Look at her ears moving,
picking up different noises.
Well, Bob and Brian, thank you very much.
It's great to see the wolves looking so good.
In Longleat House, interior designer Claire Rendall is helping Alexander Thynne, the 7th Marquess of Bath,
to come up with a new colour scheme for the Great Hall.
Something that would be a little more to his liking than the present coat of sludge-brown paint.
OK, Alexander, here's a print of the photograph we took the other day of the Great Hall,
that we've printed out in black and white for you to colour in.
Well, let me think of the building blocks. I'm thinking of the magenta.
-Possibly the two blues.
Lord Bath isn't actually allowed to change the decor of the Great Hall,
but this is a good opportunity to see what the place might look like
if only there were no rules about heritage buildings.
So what Lord Bath is going to do now is get his crayons out and colour in this digital print for me,
and he's going to give me a colour references
that we're then going to use for the colours for the computer enhancements.
We're going back to the studio with this plan,
with the colours, then do the digital enhancement of the photograph.
When the house was first built in the reign of Elizabeth I,
almost all of the woodwork was painted,
though not necessarily as Lord Bath would have it now.
I think it should be a full spectrum of colour, and at a particular brightness.
In Elizabethan times even the carved stone figures would have been painted.
They're all blondes, are they?
They're all blonde, are they?
That's what I noticed, yes.
I'm not sure I approve!
We'll be back later, when Claire's digitally enhanced picture is complete,
and we can see Lord Bath's new colour scheme unveiled in all its glory.
Down in Pets' Corner, there's a problem with one of the most famous residents.
There are over 30 tortoises living here,
and they're all popular with the visitors,
-but one in particular is a firm favourite - Winky.
She's a female spur-thighed tortoise,
and when she arrived at Longleat back in 2003,
she'd already lost one of her back legs in an accident.
Her previous owner had fitted Winky with a wheel so that she could still roam wide and free.
But the wheel was looking the worse for wear,
so head of Pets' Corner, Darren Beasley, called in a specialist model-maker to fit a new one.
That's the trouble with technology -
you have to keep on top of the maintenance,
and Winky has needed a new wheel to be fitted at regular intervals.
But now the break-down service has had to be called in.
Recently we've had a problem, and she's managed to bend the axle.
The wheel has moved and is rubbing on the piece of stumpy leg she has got.
We don't want her going back, and being poorly and stuff.
At the moment, Winky is still motoring around and is dragging the wheel on her stump around.
She's still eating, so she seems OK.
I think if we just left it alone,
it's not doing any good, it can only do her bad.
It'll get in the way, might cause discomfort in her leg.
Tortoises are funny things.
They don't need a lot of excuses to stop eating.
If you get things slightly wrong, they stop eating.
So before she gets to any discomfort, we're gonna act now.
So Darren's called in Simon England,
the model-maker who fitted Winky's new wheel when she came to Longleat.
-Nice to see you.
-How's it going?
-OK. I'm glad you came out.
-Thanks for that.
-That's all right. What can we do?
A bit of a wonky wheel with Winky.
What we think's happened is, over in the female tortoise pen, we've got a small, low fence that goes around.
I think she's got this caught in one of the squares and has bent the axle.
So when she walks now, it's not supporting her, or doing anything.
She's certainly used that a lot. Look at the tread pattern.
I was comparing it to the new one we had for her a little while ago.
It's done some miles. They say tortoises don't go very far, but this one has.
After Simon's success with Winky's first wheel, his expertise has been in demand.
We've done a couple of tortoises already.
Yes, it's not something totally unusual, but it was very unusual when we got the first phone call.
It's a pleasure to do it.
It's nice to see her - she's put on a lot of weight since we first met her. She looks really well.
This is a good opportunity to fit Winky with a new kind of wheel,
one that might be better suited to her off-road requirements.
Now we could do something like that.
I've got a nice bag of goodies here.
We could do something with some low bounce in it.
Look at that. That's even bigger bounce.
It's gonna be better, I think.
I think that might be a better option,
-cos it's nice and...
..where this one's solid.
So if she does go off road...
If she escapes.
It'll last quite a few years, anyway.
The wheel they settle on is from a model aircraft, and it seems to be an improvement.
-That's the original one.
-This would give her more support. You can see instantly. Look.
I'm supporting her body there, cos she's not bothering to,
but on grass, that gives her more clearance.
It was all to be with the remnants of whatever to the leg -
I presume an animal attacked her years ago - this then doesn't connect.
There's a gap. There's no way that's going to connect with that wheel.
We don't want to make a secondary problem. We don't want to make her sore or anything.
Darren thinks this wheel looks good but will it work in practice?
Give her the off-road challenge.
These guys all round the Mediterranean, all the rocks and nooks and the crannies,
and the thickets and stuff, they have to be fairly mobile.
They barge their way through anything.
This is a chalk mound we put in for our tortoises.
so everything that grows through has got all the calcium they need.
Instantly, it's quite a sheer slope.
She's taking her time, but the wheel's connecting.
The stump's not connecting.
-It's working a lot better now.
-That is a result.
-And it's lightweight.
Of course, Winky won't be breaking any speed limits,
but the new wheel has restored her mobility.
It is important to the animal, and it's something we're grateful for.
It's good for Winky and it's good for us, as well.
It's good news all round.
When the flock of pink flamingos came to Longleat a couple of years ago,
they were all juveniles and not old enough to breed.
Now, they're almost mature, and the keepers are keen to encourage them to get on with it.
I'm in the aviary with head of section, Mark Tighe,
and possibly the heaviest bucket of mud...
I don't know why we're bringing mud into one of the muddiest places in the park. What's going on, Mark?
-Well, this is the area we're hoping the flamingos will use as a breeding site.
Hang on, this could be comedy.
Hold on. Right. Oh, no, where am I gonna go now?
Go on the edge there, I think that's the safest.
The flamingos are gonna use this wet, soggy, horrible area as a breeding site?
-Yep, that's what they love.
-Yeah. Lots of mud.
-Where am I going?
-Over to those tufts of grass, I think.
OK. Oh, squelch. Right.
They will literally build a nest on this stuff?
Yes. What they like to build is a nest cone,
-which is probably about 12 inches high.
And about a foot across.
Like a mini volcano?
Yes. They will lay the egg in the shallow scrape in the top.
How extraordinary! So, what's the plan with this?
Well, all these birds are young birds.
They've never been brought up around another breeding flock of adult flamingos.
So, they might be a bit clueless, really, as how to build a nest.
-So what we're gonna do is put some here for them
and it might give them half an idea of what they've got to do.
-So you're building something for them to copy, effectively?
-Yeah, that's right.
Well, you better show me, because I've got no idea how to build a flamingo nest.
It's all a bit random, isn't it?
These were ones we used last year.
It's just packing the mud round the edges.
You said you got these as juveniles.
They're looking pretty much like full-blown adults now.
They've got the full pink plumage.
Does that mean that there's a chance that they will breed this year?
I think it would be a bit much to expect of them this year.
Some, probably, are too young and, I think, collectively, they have to breed really as a whole group,
-and I think some of them are a bit too young for that.
But we have seen a lot of displaying.
-Which is something we didn't see in previous years.
What do they do when they display?
Initially, they all stand and look up in the air, and just turn their heads from side to side.
-What like that?
-And go like that.
-Flamingos find that irresistible, do they?
-I presume so!
Then they'll all start walking in the same directions.
Then one will turn and the whole lot will turn.
-They all start doing that, walking as a group.
I have to point this out. ..You can't see this.
You'll have to excuse the camera work, but I'm just gonna take the camera, just for a second.
Before he falls over!
Because look at this. The cameraman is well and truly stuck.
Stop being drama queens, the two of you, and carry on with this.
So when it comes to laying the egg,
will they line the little hollow in the top with grass, or anything?
They'll use grass in the construction of the nest,
but they would just lay the egg in the dirt.
Oh, really? And how long does it take for a flamingo egg to hatch?
Between 28 and 31 days.
Will both parents be involved in the brooding of the egg?
Yes, they would, and then when they hatch, both parents would look after the chick.
The chick will leave the nest at about seven days old.
As soon as they can walk, they'll leave the nest and start pottering around.
Well, I wish them very good luck walking through this mud!
I'm not sure how we're gonna get out of here, and the cameraman isn't going to - he's completely stuck.
Mark, thank you very, very much. Hopefully, this will do the trick.
Back in Longleat House, interior designer Claire Rendall
has returned with the finished picture of the Great Hall,
now digitally enhanced with Lord Bath's new colour scheme.
Originally, this room was brightly decorated,
but all the panelling and woodwork was painted brown in Victorian times.
Lord Bath has lived with it all his life.
Now, at last, he'll be able see what could be done with the decor, if only they'd let him.
So, when do we start?
Oh, it's certainly showing how we can improve on brown.
I would put something in front of the brown, but it's impolite.
I'll just say "brown".
Also here to inspect the finished picture is Kate Harris, the curator of Longleat's Historic Collections.
She'll be able to judge whether Lord Bath's ideas are true to the Elizabethan scheme.
I think it reflects the buoyancy of 16th-century polychromy,
but it's a very modern take on that,
and all colours were probably unproduceable at that period.
So it's as inauthentic as you could get.
If somebody wants to come to your assistance and put a colour scheme up there,
and show what YOU think it should have been like, I'm very happy that it should be put up there.
It's not what I think it should have been like, but what people discovered it was like.
There was bound to be some clash between historic accuracy and artistic flair,
but at the end of the day, it's all down to taste.
So, what do you think of Lord Bath's scheme?
It looks very mad LSD tartan, doesn't it, really?
Not my colour palette at all.
I think Kate was slightly shocked, but she'll have a better knowledge of what it was like originally.
I think it's fair to say that Lord Bath has a fairly unique sense of colour.
It isn't to everybody's taste, obviously.
The narrow-gauge steam train that runs round the park
has long been a big hit with the visitors, young and old.
But it's more than that for the people who work here.
Railway enthusiasts who live, breathe and even eat the glory of steam.
It's the end of a lovely hot day here,
and Kate and I have come down to Longleat Central to catch up with station manager, John Hayton.
Hi, John. What's going on here?
Bacon for afternoon tea. What's all this about? And cooking on a shovel.
-On a shovel, in the firebox.
-Oh, it's the best way.
Do you put it into the actual furnace?
Let's get it cooking,
and we'll test it out in a minute and see how good it is.
Apart from cooking bacon, John, what else do you have to do here with all the steam trains?
Well, they've got to be taken in, all the ash taken out, smoke box cleaned,
blow the boiler down if it needs to be, get the ashes out,
clean the fire and make sure there's no hot ashes left in.
Then fill the boiler up, ready for next day.
Does she have to be buffed on the outside as well?
So she's sparkling in the morning?
That's usually done in the morning, especially my nameplate.
I did notice that.
It is very, very grand, having a train named after you.
Very much so.
What did you do to deserve that?
Well, I suppose, it was for 30 years' service.
It was a surprise to me.
We've just got another 20 to go before we get steam trains named after us!
I think that bacon looks more or less ready, don't you, John?
-It's not far off now.
-Not far off.
We will be making some delicious bacon sandwiches cooked on a train.
Sadly, that's all we've got time for on today's programme.
Here's what's coming up on the next Animal Park.
All over Longleat, there's a baby boom on.
Down by the lake, mum doesn't want anyone too close to junior.
..Apart from I'm gonna get bitten.
The ostrich's new chick is just hours old.
We'll be there to see its first faltering steps.
And nobody even knew she was pregnant,
So these four little lion cubs were a big surprise.
We'll have all that and more next time on Animal Park.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Lord Bath wants to decorate the Great Hall in Longleat House. Winkie the one-wheeled tortoise needs roadside assistance, and Elvis the camel has got a new baby sister, Jasmine. Will the siblings get on?