Fascinating stories from five centuries of Longleat’s rich history have been brought to life as part of a major new outdoor exhibition.
Tales of the Garden, which opened to visitors on 28 May and runs until 12 September features a series of stunning sculptures celebrating real people and animals who helped shape Longleat’s grounds and gardens from the late 16th century through to the present day.
They’ve been created by UK-based artists, Charlotte Austen, Rebecca McDonald, Penny Spedding and their teams using a range of materials including jesmonite, steel, wool, wood, wire, ink, fabric, pigment and gold leaf.
In nine different installations dotted around the estate’s formal gardens and historic Stable Yard visitors can find out about the illustrious landscape architects and garden designers who contributed to Longleat’s appearance down through the centuries such as George London, ‘Capability’ Brown, Humphry Repton, Russell Page and Graham Burgess, guided by the visions of the Thynne family.
Other sculptures mark the visit of King George III in 1789, who reputedly planted an oak which is still standing today, pay tribute to the family’s beloved pets over the years and showcase real figures from Longleat’s past.
Many of the sculptures have been inspired by images taken from Longleat’s archives. These include figures based on the estate’s head gardener in 1902 and members of the Thynne family playing with a pond yacht in the fountain from Christmas 1926.
Longleat’s architectural history is also featured with tales of the creation of the Love Maze fountain, Orangery, Boathouse and Stables.
There are even sculptures displaying how the history of animal collections goes back further than the opening of the drive through Safari Park in 1966.
Explore evidence of the kangaroos kept at Longleat as far back as the 18th century. Laugh at the stories of the troublesome peacocks and pheasants who roamed free in the Secret Garden in the 1960s and enjoy the story of the king penguins who liked to take a walk in the gardens.