Ben Fogle and Kate Humble explore life behind the scenes at Longleat Estate and Safari Park. Lord Bath discovers some skeletons in the family closet.
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Hello and welcome to Animal Park. I'm Kate Humble.
And I'm Ben Fogle, and this WAS Hamish,
-before he disappeared into my jacket.
-This is Scamp.
They're ferrets. There are ten of them here at Longleat, and very entertaining they are.
They seem to want to... There's one there, recording sound.
-If you can't hear us, blame the ferrets.
-What are you doing?
All I can see is a little tail sticking out.
-We're always invaded when we come in here.
-We are. They've all left me now.
We've got lots of stories about the animals
and the house here at Longleat. Here's what's coming up today.
The lion cubs love a bit of rough and tumble
but now Malaika is hurt and her keepers are worried.
The tigers are a bit more sedate
but that's to be expected at their grand old age.
-They're keen to do it but they just do it at a slower pace nowadays.
And don't be fooled by their comical appearance. Hippos can be deadly.
But first we're going up to lion country, where Kabir's two daughters are growing fast.
Malaika is now four and a half months old, while her half sister, Jasira, is two months younger.
At this age, they're concentrating on the skills
every lion needs to survive - hunting, stalking and fighting.
Keeper Bob Trollope is spending a lot of time watching them
because learning to be a lion can be a dangerous business.
We do like to keep an eye on them when they're fed because Kabir can be a bit aggressive over food.
He is a very powerful animal, plus the fact he's ten times bigger
than the little ones at the moment.
Even if he just sat on them, he'd do a lot of damage.
At feeding time, it's important to Kabir to feel that he's got
the lion's share, though, of course, there's always plenty for everyone.
Our cubs are such great time-wasters.
We spend hours just watching them.
It's great to watch them because they're
picking up the skills they would use in later life in the wild.
They're in deepest Wiltshire at the moment so they don't actually need those skills.
But they are great time-wasters.
It just amazes you how bold
and courageous they can be.
normal to us as a tree
is a mountain for them to climb.
They will chase each other around, jump on each other.
Greatest thing to play with at the moment is Mum's tail.
It is great fun. They do what any small kitten would do at home -
play with virtually anything.
But these kittens already weigh four times more than a fully-grown cat,
and all this play is really part of their education.
The mums - Luna and Yendi - help the cubs practise their fighting skills.
They play quite rough at times.
I've just noticed that Malaika has got a bit of a limp.
Do you intervene too soon or let nature take its course
and heal naturally? Why intervene?
You might put her through more stress
by getting in and catching her and having a look around.
They are designed to take a certain amount of, um...
..punishment from the bigger lions.
Bob needs to keep Malaika under close observation
because that limp could be nothing, or it might be a serious problem.
We'll be back to find out later on.
Out in Africa, the lion might be the king of the beasts, but he's not the most dangerous.
Every year, more people are killed by another, even more dangerous creature.
Amazingly, it's a herbivore.
I have to confess I'm feeling a little bit nervous.
I'm here with head of section Mark Tye in the hippo field, and the hippos, several tonnes
of what is supposed to be the most dangerous animal in Africa standing only a few metres away, Mark.
Is this a good idea?
But we'll have a go at it anyway!
We've come to feed them.
-Given that they might get angry if they're not fed, I think I better start. Hay.
-Pull that out. There we go.
-Half a bale.
What do you do, just spread this out?
-We shake this up in a line along here.
There we go. That's fairly well...
shaken up now.
We do have to shake it up well because they are quite fussy eaters.
-Any bad, lumpy hay they tend to just tread into the ground.
They're a pair of madams really.
I have to say...
You're getting nervous!
I'm slightly speechless only because you hear so many stories about hippos.
Even though they only eat grass, and they're not going to attack us
to feed on us, but what I've been told is that you never get between a hippo and the water.
-Which is exactly where we are.
It is probably the worst place to be
because if a hippo gets frightened, its safety net is water.
So it will always run to water for itself to feel safe, and if anything gets in its way, too bad.
Just get trampled into the mud.
-Plain and simple.
-But presumably we're not being stupid here.
They know this routine, they know you...
And also we've got the vehicle right next to us, which obviously we can get into.
Sometimes, when it's in the middle of winter, they do get extremely close, and that can be a bit of fun.
When you have to rely on the other person to tell you when to run,
you literally put the food out without looking.
Just quickly doing it.
They're fantastic to look at.
I'll just get this other food so we don't hold them up too much longer.
So, they get... Is it horse nuts?
Yes. They get about 12 kilos of horse cubes.
It's half a bale of hay and a few bananas and a bit of cabbage as well.
For an animal of that size, they don't eat very much.
That's true actually. Shall I sprinkle these...?
-Just sprinkle that along the top of the hay.
How many tonnes are they?
It's difficult to know an accurate figure,
but we've always thought between two and a half and three tonnes each.
They are quite big. When you look at them, one their stomachs is
-dragging along the floor.
You do look at them and the thought of them being fast is ridiculous.
They've got short legs and enormous bodies.
Is it true they can run up to...?
25mph, easily. Very easily.
-Through thick mud as well, which is quite scary.
-That is scary.
Right. That's all out.
Should we get back in the vehicle?
Yeah. They won't come much closer with us here, so if we get back in and pull up the road a bit
-then they'll probably come on over and eat.
We'll get out of their way, and join us in a little bit to see Spot and Sonya having their lunch.
Back in Lion Country, the keepers have been watching Malaika, the eldest cub, closely.
It's been a day since she was spotted with a limp,
and now Bob Trollope has been able to get a close look.
There's a small cut on Malaika's shoulder.
In fact, it's already begun to heal
so the best bet is to just leave it alone.
Meanwhile, Malaika's younger sister, Jasira, is also causing some alarm.
She may be a little too bold for her own good.
Jasira's very good at climbing trees
and not very good at getting down them at the moment.
To Mum, that would be just a simple bound down.
But not to Jasira.
She is the most adventurous one out of the two
and she's into everything. Climbing up trees and logs and things
is all part of her learning process.
She's learning now that it's easier to get up than it is to get down.
To us, I suppose, it's just a little jump
but to something that small, it's quite a way.
It must be a good eight, nine, ten feet off the ground.
If she fell, obviously, she could do a lot of damage to herself.
But if she just...
used a bit of common sense
and reversed down, it would be a lot easier.
When a cat gets stuck up a tree, it's traditional to phone for help.
I'd love to call the fire brigade up just to get her down to see what their faces look like.
But I don't think we'd be allowed to.
Having completed today's exercise in tree climbing,
Jasira is now practising the art of stalking prey.
As you can see, she's sort of stalking Dad
before trying to take him down.
Hunting techniques, this is.
She's just sort of grabbed a mouthful of...
belly hair or mane.
He's quite relaxed about it.
He'll give her a bit of a growl but that'd be about it.
Out of the two, Jasira is much more courageous than Malaika
and she doesn't mind to go out there and give
Kabir a tug on the mane or play with his tail, where Malaika's a little bit more
guarded against it, a bit more, "I don't know whether I should or not."
A couple of days later, just when Malaika's leg had got better,
Jasira was spotted limping.
Unlike her sister, there was no visible injury to the leg,
and the problem was slow to improve.
So the next time vet Duncan Williams was doing the rounds, Bob called him in.
Oh, shush, shush, shush.
It's the one between...
-GROWLING DROWNS SPEECH
The family has been shut in the lion house.
Kabir's not happy about it, but it's best for Jasira.
I was wondering - it's hard to tell with them -
whether she's got a little bit of swelling on that joint.
I suppose overenthusiastic playing, a bit of boisterous...
So how long's it been going on, Bob?
Three or four days.
Initially, she had a limp
and then the following day she was just holding it up,
didn't want to sort of move about on it much.
In the ideal world, we'd have her in and X-ray it and see what's what.
We can't do that because of having to separate her from Mum.
We'd have to take her to the surgery, knock her out
and transport her, so it's quite an undertaking.
She's pretty lame on
I think it's probably just a sort of
soft tissue injury as opposed to a fractured leg
or anything like that, because she is improving after a couple of days.
She's putting a lot more weight on it than when it first happened,
so I think it's a sort of...like a sprain or something like that.
Bob's already done the right thing by keeping her, cage rest,
so she's not putting too much pressure on it.
She's not having to go outside and keep up with her mother.
She's using the bad leg now when she's playing there
so I don't think it can be too serious.
So, for now, Duncan's going to leave a course
of anti-inflammatory medicine for Bob to give Jasira.
If her leg isn't better in a couple of days, they'll have to consider more serious measures.
We'll be back later to see what happens.
I'm up at the hippo field with head of section, Mark Tye, and earlier, I thought
we took our life into our hands and got out with the hippos very close by and spread out their food.
We've just pulled away a little bit to give them a bit of space.
-Who's this who's come up to the food first, Mark?
-This is Sonya.
She's the larger of the two, and as you can see, she's positioning herself over the top of the food.
She is looking quite proprietorial.
-"This is mine, and you're not getting near it."
-Very much so.
Poor old Spot's just standing there going, "Right.
"How am I going to get round this one?"
Also the fact she is slightly more nervous.
-Yes. So she's a bit reluctant to come forwards,
although she is looking like she'll squeeze round now.
A little bit shier, but, having said that, neither of them are to be trusted.
We've had certain times in the past where you think
you're far enough away from them, and then you realise you're not.
-They move so quickly.
They are extremely wild. There's nothing tame about these two at all.
Even though they've been in captivity for 30 years, they are most definitely not at all tame.
They came here aged two years old and were put into this environment.
And other than seeing people around, people putting their food down, they've very rarely been locked away
for anything, because we have the mud wallows, which is much better for them than any concrete house.
So it is a wild, natural sort of state they live in.
The boat's going past here making quite a noise.
They look completely unconcerned by that, so they've obviously got used to that.
Yes, they've got used to the boat,
-although they don't like the boat if it gets too close to them.
The sea lions they've had to put up with.
Yes. That's something you'd never get in the wild -
hippos and sea lions in the same environment. But they get on OK?
Yes. It started off I think it was in the late '80s with Lindy, I believe, who, when she was a baby,
decided that hippos were good fun to play on.
They were like a mobile island that she could stop on around the lake.
And all the others have picked it up.
Initially, the hippos didn't like it and got stroppy.
In the end, they probably thought, "There's not a lot I can do about it,"
so they just put up with it.
I love their kind of mud lines around the middle there.
Presumably, in the hotter weather they spend more time completely covered in mud, do they?
In the summer when it's hotter, they spend most of their time in the water.
They literally stay in the water in the lake all day long and come out at night to feed in the field.
They use the wallow more in the winter.
The wallows they make over there, they can just completely submerge themselves
and sometimes you don't even know they're in there
-and all you see is just ears and eyelids and that's it.
They're great. Thank you very, very much indeed.
A great treat.
We shall leave Spot and Sonya to enjoy the rest of their meal.
A few weeks ago, I was up in the park trying to
figure out how many of their seven female pygmy goats were pregnant.
It was hard to tell by eye.
But today, on his rounds, Duncan the vet has brought along some hi-tech equipment.
I'm up at the giraffery where head of section Andy Hayton, senior warden Bev Evans,
and safari park vet Duncan Williams are scanning the pygmy goats to find out if they're pregnant.
Judging by the noises, I think they are.
Duncan, have you just spotted that...
-Is that it there?
-You see there?
That's it - the spinal cord.
What sort of age do you think that is?
Well, this is probably about four months now.
Probably due in about a month, five weeks' time.
Bev, I know that this was a pygmy goat that you weren't actually sure whether or not she was pregnant.
-That must be pretty good news for you.
Are there any preparations to do?
Just keep an eye on their weight, feed them closer to the time,
make sure their udders are coming down OK, make sure they're in good health,
and then just let them get on with it, really.
One by one, the other six nanny goats are brought in to be tested.
See those lumps and the movement there? That is definitely a pregnancy.
The results are looking good.
I think that's the foetus again.
-Right, this is, um...
-This is G.
This is the last of our patients, is it?
-Well, we have Ali and G, so it's Ali G.
-A massive kick there.
Do you know what part of the body that is?
Probably just a back leg. You can see both legs there.
The black stuff's the fluid around the baby, you know...
I remember that from biology. So that's positive for all of them?
-All seven, yes.
-Well, congratulations, if I can say that.
You've got a real smile on your face, a real proud smile.
-They're your little babies, really.
-Yeah, kind of.
Thanks very much, guys.
And we'll keep you posted on the progress of the pygmy goats.
Now it's time to meet the ancestors.
Over the course of this series, Alexander Thynne, the seventh Marquess of Bath, has volunteered
to lead us back through the branches of his family tree, to visit some of his most influential forebears.
It's a task for which Lord Bath is well qualified.
Not only has he lived here most of his 74 years, surrounded by family lore and legend,
but he's also recently published his own memoirs
featuring many stories of the ancient Thynne dynasty.
Today we're going back four and half centuries, to when it all began.
It was John Thynne who first brought the family to Longleat.
He was born the son of a common farmer, and ended the master of one of the grandest palaces in Europe.
And in Tudor times, you didn't get on by being Mr Nice Guy.
"John Thynne was a typical specimen of the new Protestant breed of rapaciously acquisitive,
"ruthlessly determined, shrewdly self-interested men on the make within the Tudor court."
John left the Shropshire farm of his birth
to seek his fortune at court.
He got a job working for the Duke of Somerset, who himself
had achieved power and wealth as the brother of Jane Seymour, one of Henry VIII's wives.
By the time Elizabeth I came to the throne,
John Thynne was also a wealthy man.
"Sir John may have been an uncouth, domineering, formidable rogue of ill-gotten wealth, shrewdly cunning
"and essentially ruthless, but he was now emerging as an eminent Elizabethan."
He was nicknamed John The Builder.
One of his most lavish projects was to oversee the construction
of a sumptuous new palace in London
for his master, the Duke of Somerset.
But before Somerset House was even finished,
both of them were arrested and thrown into the Tower of London.
In Tudor times, the politics of court was a deadly business.
His enemies said enough things for him to be thrown into the Tower for embezzlement.
They executed the other one, Somerset, and they let him off.
And he was a rich man.
After that, Sir John spent a lot less time in London,
and devoted more of his energies to his country estate, Longleat.
Originally, there was a priory here, but Henry VIII confiscated it
at the time of the Protestant Reformation
and sold the property off to the highest bidder.
Sir John bought the priory and the surrounding 60 acres for just £53.
A few years later, the old church buildings were
destroyed in an accidental fire, but they'd never been good enough for Sir John anyway.
He was becoming wealthy very quickly,
and then I think he learnt the lesson that, um...
court was a dangerous place where you tended to lose your head if you stayed there too long,
so, having bought the plot of land here at Longleat,
he retired here and spent the rest of his life,
from his mid-fifties onwards, building this palace.
It was the first Renaissance palace, or it could be called that, in England.
So John The Builder was again planning a very grand house,
despite the fact that, in Tudor times, ambition could so easily cause a chap to lose his head.
We'll find out what happened later on.
I'm in Pets Corner with my favourite bird, and almost my favourite keeper, Rob.
Thank you very much. Why "almost"?
Now, Nelson isn't usually to be found in this part of Pets Corner, is she?
No, we've created a new play frame for her.
She used to spend her days on the back of our parrot show seating,
and although it's nice for her there, we've given her some nice perches...
She likes it on the seating, but she's sat on metal railings a lot of the time.
It's her choice, because she can go where she wants.
But we wanted her to be sitting on these nice thick branches and giving her a variety of things to do.
And also, this is near our entrance to Pets Corner, so she's an instant hit because she's so popular.
She is gorgeous. Remind me what sort of parrot she is?
She's a Moluccan cockatoo, sometimes known as a salmon-crested
because of these beautiful salmon-coloured feathers here.
But she originated from the Moluccan islands just above Australia.
That's what gives her her name.
She was called Nelson accidentally!
I was going to say, a SHE called Nelson! What happened?
Before she came to Longleat, her previous owners didn't know the sex of her, because with parrots,
you can't sex them by looking at them, so they assumed it was a boy and called it Nelson.
It sticks, and we call her Nelly, really.
And she is particularly soppy and friendly, isn't she?
Very. She loves attention. She does get a bit overcrowded.
Sometimes when she's been on the seat
and she gets overcrowded by the little ones,
this is also a good idea, it gives her space.
We can put a barrier across
and choose who comes and sees her during the day.
Well, it's great to see that she has got her own area all of her own.
It's been a long time coming, hasn't it?
Rob, thank you very much indeed.
We've got lots more coming up on today's programme, haven't we, Nelson?
Up at the great house,
I'll be getting into some ancient heavy metal...
The tigers may be getting old but even as pensioners they're impressive.
She's still an absolutely remarkable looking animal.
And Bob has to rely on bribery to get a close look at Jasira's leg.
There are a few things every self-respecting
stately home of any historical importance simply must have.
Plenty of ancestors on the walls,
the odd ghost or two, and a certain amount of cold, hard steel.
I'm in the great hall, hanging up some of Longleat House's armour with conservator Ken Windess.
Now, Ken, the first thing I've really noticed is how heavy all of this stuff is. What's it made of?
It's straightforward steel, but the breastplate is a lot heavier than the back plate.
-So this is obviously a breastplate.
They always assumed that you were gonna get attacked from the front.
-So whereas a back plate presumably is...
-There's a back plate there.
You can see it's very light compared with that.
And I'm surprised that it's so dour and black and not shiny like I imagined armour would always be.
-Yeah, shiny armour is just reserved, if you like, for the officers and knights of old, so to speak.
These were made specifically for the soldiers,
and the soldiers were made up of the staff
of Longleat at the time, ie stable boys and the people like that, and
probably most of it was made by the local blacksmith, because he was also an armourer as well.
So this is during the Civil War?
Civil War period, yeah.
And if you'd been around in the house at that time, this would have been your task as well?
That would probably have been my helmet.
Incredible. Tell me about the helmet.
The helmets of this house, are called lobsters because of the shape of the...
So lobsters have a sort of tail at the back to protect them.
-Can I put it on?
-Yeah, by all means.
It all looks quite small, actually.
-I think people tended to be a lot smaller in those days.
And presumably this was to protect the face, the front, from swords?
What sort of weapons would they have used?
-Spears and things like that.
-And we've got...
So there's the helmet, and we've got the breastplate and back plate.
This would have been for the arms?
Is there left and a right?
Yeah, you see on the display we've only got
a left-handed, or left-armed, armour, simply because the sword arm was always kept free for...
So literally you would have worn it on that hand and you would have swung...
It would have been totally concealing that arm...
That would be to protect the body.
-Are there any kind of damage to any of the things?
You can believe, if you like, that these are musket ball indentations.
-So that could have saved somebody's life at some point.
-It does look...
Do you think it's possible?
I like to believe that, yeah.
So, during the Civil War, where did the house stand?
Where were their allegiance?
Well, basically he was a King's man, underneath it all,
-but he did tend to sit on the fence.
-Went where it suited them.
If he had to declare which side he was on, I think he would have gone for the King,
but he never actually took up arms himself.
Was there ever a risk that the house was going to be plundered, did they ever...?
Yes, there was that risk but what they did is they actually
took the valuable stuff away.
There is a story, how true it is I don't know, where they actually took
all the silver and hid it and the silver has never been found to this day.
So somewhere in the Longleat estate there could be a big horde of silver buried?
I keep looking but I haven't found it!
What an amazing story.
I better get back to hanging. Where do you want this helmet?
Back up in the lion's den, Jasira, the youngest cub, was seen limping,
and has been on a course of anti-inflammatory medicine for a couple of days now.
Keeper Bob Trollope has an easy way to administer the dose.
Oh, yes, you're up for it, aren't you?
If I can get a little chunk.
Don't give her too much to start with, cos I want to make sure...
Come on, darling. Good girl.
Just put a bit in and see if she wants it.
Oh, yeah. Good girl.
All the lions have been trained from an early age
to take meat chunks for just this purpose.
It's the lion equivalent of the old spoonful-of-sugar trick.
Up, up, up.
It's obviously better than having to inject them or dart them.
It's something that we do on a regular basis anyway,
not only this sort of medication, but deworm her and things like that.
It's such an easy way, and they get pleasure out of it rather than being stressed, so we're happy in a way.
If we can get them at an early age like this to do that, then in later life when they're that age,
it works wonders.
Stand up. Good girl.
Now we can see your feet.
And that one. Come on. Good girl.
There you are.
Come on, let's have a look. Oh.
There's obviously no pain in her foot.
We're lucky that they are quite quiet.
Come on, good girl.
That's it. Let's see if there's anything on there. ..Is there? No.
Good girl. Good girl.
Today Jasira is being very trusting, so Bob can get a close look at that injured leg and foot.
Quite good. We've been able to see the pad, so we know it's not in the pad.
And she didn't seem too worried about me poking about on various parts of her leg.
When you get the chance, you've got to take it.
She's really up for it.
The fact that they are quiet and we can do this while...
that's it. Stand up a bit more.
Does that hurt?
Bob's pleased with what he's seen of Jasira's leg, but she's not all better yet.
What we just gave her is an anti-inflammatory.
Obviously, if there's
a sprain or strain, then there'll be some swelling.
That's probably through a knock or bump or something from one of the others.
She might have just jumped about and hurt herself.
Obviously, if that doesn't change in a few days, we'll have to get Duncan back in
and I imagine there'll have to be some sort of X-ray or whatever.
But we don't want to do that.
We'll be keeping an eye on Jasira's progress throughout the series.
Next to the lions in the large carnivore section
live Siberian tigers Sonar and Kadu.
Though they're both splendid animals they're getting on a bit
and their health has been a worry.
But both of them have made it through another hard winter
and are out enjoying the warmer climate of spring.
After dealing with his young lions, Bob's next job is up here in tiger country. And I've joined him.
I'm out in the tiger enclosure with keeper Bob Trollope.
They're about to be fed, Bob.
I have to confess, looking at Kadu here,
I was quite worried about these guys over the winter,
because both Kadu and Sonar are getting on a bit in years.
They are. Kadu will be 21 this year, and Sonar 22.
-And so...they're getting anything a pensioner would get.
-They are geriatrics.
-So we do have to be careful with them.
Shouldn't you just be putting down a bowl of meat for them?
No, not really. If they're still capable of chasing the feed wagon,
then, you know, it can only improve them.
Letting them just stand still and get things delivered to them
-doesn't do them any good.
-So this is quite good stimulation for them?
-Stimulation and motivation, really.
Because, apart from chasing the odd pheasant, what else have they got to chase?
-So, should I start feeding now?
-We'll just go round the corner.
-So they get a bit more of an exercise,
even though they're only walking.
A few years ago, they'd have been chasing after us and we'd have been going flat out.
It's like sending your granny out to the ice cream van.
Looking at Sonar here, he had quite a few health problems last year
but he's looking very good, Bob.
Yeah, he is. Touch wood. He's doing great guns.
-We do give him a little bit extra just to keep the weight on him.
Which he is benefiting from.
-Both of their coats are looking good.
-They are looking good.
-They're looking healthy.
-I think they are.
I don't care what anyone says, she doesn't look 21.
No, she doesn't. She's still an absolutely remarkable looking animal.
-Shall I put a piece down?
-Yes, she's quite eager.
Here you are, girl.
-There you go.
-She's grabbed that.
She's certainly not worried about her appetite.
-Oh, no, she's got a good appetite.
-Shall I give Sonar a piece too?
-There you are.
There he goes.
They're ever so keen to do everything, just at a slower pace.
Yeah, well, that's a privilege all of us can look forward to, don't you?
I think so. I hope so!
Well, Bob, I'm delighted that they made it through the winter,
that they're looking so healthy and it's great to see them. Thank you.
It's always a privilege to feed them.
Longleat House was designed to make a big impression.
That was important to Sir John Thynne
when he started building work in 1568, during the reign of Elizabeth I.
Today, Alexander Thynne, Lord Bath,
is the 13th generation of his descendants to live here.
In his memoirs, he's written about Sir John's architectural ambitions.
"It was a daring enterprise, in that it set out to build something
"in a style that had never yet been ventured upon British soil."
He was a member of the court,
he was...seeing his rivals... starting on
having grandiose buildings.
He was a newcomer and wanted a more grandiose building than they had.
So he made it his business
to see that the finest palace that had ever gone up in England outside royalty was his.
He was definitely a nouveau riche of that time and proudly
being a vigorous entrepreneur and a vigorous controller of everything.
News of the splendour of Longleat soon reached the court, and Queen Elizabeth I
decided to visit on one of her Royal Progresses through the West Country.
Fearing the expense of entertaining her, Sir John tried to put her off with a series of excuses.
There were diseases in the household.
There were, er...
Poachers were dangerous.
Every kind of excuse was put up there.
And for a while, she swallowed them.
But in the end, she just felt that she was being...
made a monkey of. So insisted, gave some very fierce words.
I think he probably knew from experience that if she felt things
were too good, she might sort of say, "Well, you owe that to me."
Um, but, er...she did get her way in the end
and then was lavish in her praise for his preparations for the visit.
Elizabeth was impressed, but kindly allowed Sir John to keep his fine house.
Through the centuries since, Longleat has continued to impress its many visitors,
whether they be kings, queens,
or experts on historic architecture, like Nick Molyneux from English Heritage.
I always am excited arriving here.
I think the arrival down the drive
is one of the great experiences of English country houses.
The approach that the visitor has today, as you come over the hill,
look down into the valley and see the house sitting there in this fantastic landscape.
Then you remember it's not a 18th-century country house,
as you first think it is, it's actually 16th-century.
And it's a very, very grand house for its date.
Um...and then, you come inside and this space is just a "Wow!"
For me, the great hall is one of the great spaces of its period in England.
Sir John did much of the design work himself.
And that's one of the enigmas of Longleat, that a man who started as
an uneducated farm boy could produce a building as significant as this.
So how do you rate Longleat amongst all the other European architecture that was going up?
For its period, it's one of the great houses of Europe,
certainly of England.
And, of course, Sir John was employing some of the best stonemasons around.
Although, as we know, he was quite keen
to have his own hand in designing the place as well.
One of the great features of the house - is the fact
that it's got a symmetrical facade,
which was a very new idea when he was here building.
Yes, well, I like the way, though, that once you get up to the roof
that it sort of certainly begins to get an originality
that isn't in the other houses. Individualism creeps in.
As we know, Lord Bath is particularly keen on individualism,
so he's recently created a private terrace garden on the roof.
Here, over 60 feet above the ground, on top of a house that boasts 99 chimneys,
the scale of Sir John's ambition becomes clear.
It could be called the first Renaissance house in Britain, or I don't know which one...
The first Renaissance palace.
Palace is fair - and certainly the best surviving one. We've lost one of the two of the royal ones.
Sir John Thynne died in 1580, aged 65, leaving 18 children to carry on the dynasty.
And the tradition of innovation continues today.
When Longleat opened to the public in 1949,
it was the first private stately home to do so in Britain.
And have a tradition of "got to be the first".
It's quite a good one - a difficult one - but it's good to have that prompting.
-I thought you carried on in that tradition.
-Yes, we have.
It's a difficult one to keep up now, but I think we've done not too bad on that tradition.
Lord Bath will be back with more tales of his illustrious ancestors later in the series.
We've come up to the rhino house to help with the end-of-day feed.
We're here with deputy head of section Kevin Nibbs.
We seem to be feeding outside, Kevin.
-I thought the rhinos were shut inside at night.
But we've got a new facility here that they've got access to all night.
It's really good for them. It's a bit of a stimulus.
-They get to stay out at night.
-Who is out here now?
The two girls. This is Rosina closest to us.
-Shall I just stick this...?
-Yes, we have two piles.
-Through there. I'll do Rosina's pile.
-I'll pop this through here, Kevin?
-And tip that over.
What have we got in the bucket?
It's just a few horse pellets and a little bit of additives for them.
-Vitamins and minerals.
And they're quite happy staying out here overnight?
-Presumably the weather's nice and warm.
-They're very happy.
They get more sun on their backs so it's really good for them.
And this is a controlled environment and they're safe and happy.
That's it. Pretty solid - all this steel. They can't get out.
I don't think the two piles worked.
I think my feeding went down rather better than yours!
We could start on that one, Kate.
Kevin, thank you very much.
That's all we've got time for today.
Here's what's coming up on the next Animal Park.
There's a murder mystery to solve on meerkat mountain
with a twist in the plot that's stranger than fiction.
Down on the farm, the student vet is going to find out what's what at lambing time.
And we'll see what happens
when everyone at Longleat is told that a lion has escaped
and is running loose somewhere on the estate.
So don't miss the next Animal Park.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd - 2006
E-mail [email protected]
More behind-the-scenes stories at Longleat Safari Park and House. Presented by Ben Fogle and Kate Humble.
Lord Bath invites us to meet his ancestors - and discovers some skeletons in the family closet. Young lion cub Malika takes her first tentative steps into the great outdoors. And Kate makes lunch for the deadliest animals in the park - hippos Spot and Sonia.