The Amazing Longleat Hedge Maze
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The Amazing Longleat Hedge Maze

During the 18th century in Britain, when landscape gardener Lancelot “Capability” Brown replaced formal gardens with natural-looking features, hedge mazes flourished, but with the growth of industrialization and the leisure industry in the 19th century, mazes became less elitist.

During the 18th century in Britain, when landscape gardener Lancelot “Capability” Brown replaced formal gardens with natural-looking features, hedge mazes flourished, but with the growth of industrialization and the leisure industry in the 19th century, mazes became less elitist.

Image via Google Images

Near the towns of Warminster in Wiltshire and Frome in Somerset is Longleat, an English country house, currently the seat of the Marquesses of Bath. It is known for its Elizabethan country house, maze, landscaped parkland and safari park.

Images via Google Images

The house was built in 1580 by Sir John Thynne, designed by Robert Smythson, and landscaped by Capability Brown. The exterior retains its fine Tudor façade, the interior was altered to follow the changing state of comfort and fashion. The great hall boasts of its Tudor hammer beam roof and carved fireplace, but the rest of the furnishings are Victorian. The interior decoration is in luxurious Italian style, modeled after estates in Venice and Genoa. There are fabulous Flemish tapestries, and a collection of fine period furniture. Paintings dating as far back as the 16th century hang in on lavishly decorated walls. The original long gallery has been converted into a saloon, and family portraits in the great hall trace the Thynne family back to Tudor times.

Images via Google Images

The erotic murals by Alexander Thynne, the 7th Marquess of Bath, a direct descendant who now currently occupies the house, are on display in the West Wing. He is also a great lover of mazes, and has added the hedge maze, as well as three other smaller garden mazes: the Lunar Labyrinth, the Sun Maze, King Arthur's maze, and the Love Labyrinth on the Longleat property.

Image via Google Images

One of the many attractions which surround the house of Longleat is the world’s longest hedge maze, and also the largest of several mazes on the property. Mazes were popular forms of amusement for kings and princes; they were found only at the wealthiest palaces throughout Europe. In 1975, designer Greg Bright created the Longleat Hedge Maze. It’s made of more than 16,000 English Yews, and covers an area of around 1.48 acres with a total pathway length of 1.69 miles. It is also three-dimensional having six wooden bridges that offer tantalizing glimpses towards the elusive centre of the maze. It is a full scale maze, with several dead end and multiple paths that surrounds a central tower. The average time taken to reach the center is 90 minutes.

Images via Google Images

The Longleat Hedge Maze will forever appeal to everyone’s sense of playfulness whatever the age to explore and discover. Visitors will surely enjoy the puzzle, mystery and over-all experience in figuring out a way to reach the center and to safely return back to where they started.

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Comments (16)

A beautiful and interesting garden any gardener will be proud of.

beautifully written article and some stunning photographs but I wouldn't like to have to trim it!

These are wonderful. I once able to experience inside a maze, somewhere in Britain too. It was a fun experience, and we almost lost inside of it before we were able to go out. :-D

Ranked #17 in Europe

A beautiful château and extraordinary maze. Thanks for the visit Alma.

Totally looks like an awesome place to visit and explore.

Wow, thats amazing!

This is great!

Breathtaking chateau . . . and I love mazes. But I'm thinking you'd want to bring a sleeping bag and a large picnic basket for this one!

Terrific write! Very interesting and well presented. I have wanted to visit this place for a while now but your article has really given me the incentive to go! You have my vote and buzz!

Ranked #3 in Europe

Very interesting and good to keep in mind for my next visit to the UK.

absolutely breathtaking pictures

As always very nice, Alma. Capability Brown got the name "Capability" because when asked what he thought about the gardens of certain homes, he would say "it has capability" ,sounds just like aVictorian.

Amazing!! I loved the article and the pictures! So how many many millions do I need to make before I can get a garden and house like that?:)

Absolutely awesome photos!

Brilliant historical analysis, Alma. This is my subject, and you have made a wonderful contribution here - I'm quite envious!

Lavish and elegant interior of this architectural masterpiece. The hedge maze is intricate by design and must be a pleasurable but mind-boggling experience to walk through. Awesome article!