Private Goes Public!

PUBLISHED: 12:52 19 November 2010 | UPDATED: 16:19 20 February 2013

Private Goes Public!

Private Goes Public!

Poke around in Longleat's cupboards, peek behind closed doors and see parts of the House previously closed to visitors

As Longleat House prepares for the winter VIP Tours 2009/10, it finds itself in line for a top tourism award for its behind-the-scenes tours of the House which first started last winter. Nominated for the Tourism Experience of the Year in the South West Tourism England for Excellence Awards, these awards are the Oscars of the tourism industry as they aim to promote and reward the leading businesses and individuals within the tourism sector. Entrants need to demonstrate outstanding levels of customer service, exemplary facilities, commitment to sustainability, recycling and the environment, and also to be accessible to all.

Ruth Charles, the brains behind the new winter House tours and Head Guide of Longleat House confirmed: We are absolutely thrilled to get through to the regional finals of this extremely competitive category. Although the tours only started last winter we have been over the moon with the response that weve had from visitors to date. To hear that were now through to the regional finals is quite overwhelming and were delighted.

Ruth explained: The tours offer a real behind-the-scenes look at Longleat House. I have always felt that once I see a door saying Private, then I really want to know whats behind it! These tours give visitors a rare chance to peek in cupboards and behind closed doors. Its like being given the keys to a stately home and just being told to have a good nose around! And this is precisely what we do!

There are several different tours on offer, and subject to the tour you choose, you could get to see the hidden cavity behind the library books in the Green Library where the 2nd Marquess hid to avoid talking to visitors; see inside some of the exquisite cabinets (usually kept closed to avoid damage from the light), and even take a walk outside to look at the garden and the architecture.

You can find out about the silver coins from the 16th-century shuffleboard table in the Great Hall of Longleat House, and learn why they have the initials IT when the owners name was John Thynne; or see if you can spot the Servants Door in the Breakfast Room. Or how about viewing some of Lord Baths famous and fabulous murals? No tour of Longleat House would be complete without a peek at these magnificent works.

Ruth confirmed: We are building on the tours for this year and are offering some brand new tours for January to March Open Cupboards, Meet the Ancestors, Behind the Scenes, and Architecture Tours. I am so excited about what we can now offer through these new VIP Tours. We can now show visitors previously unseen areas of the House. Ive even had staff asking how they can book onto them!

VIP TOURS

The VIP Tours to Longleat House are the latest initiative to come out of this pioneering stately home, which was the first stately home to open to the public on a fully commercial basis (in 1949) and the first to open a first safari park outside of Africa (in 1966).

All VIP Tours to Longleat House include lunch in the Cellars Caf or in Lord Baths Banqueting Suite (subject to tour) and a 10% discount in Lady Baths Shop. Pre-booking is essential as tours are subject to availability. Further details from Ruth Charles, 01985 845420, ruth.charles@longleat.co.uk.

The Safari Park VIP Tours are available all year and give a real insight into the daily life in the Safari Park as a Safari warden becomes your dedicated driver and takes you in a 4x4 jeep around the safari for a couple of hours to learn about the animals. Further information on 01985 844328, www.longleat.co.uk.

Longleat will learn whether it has taken Gold or Silver in the Tourism Experience of the Year category as The South West Tourism Awards culminate on 23 November.

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