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Longleat near Warminster in Wiltshire was one of the earliest of the great Elizabethan show or prodigy houses, started before Wollaston (1580s) or Hardwick (1590s). It was begun by Sir John Thynne, who had done well out of the dissolution of the monasteries. The advising architect was Robert Smythson, later employed at Wollaston and Hardwick. Its main feature is the great expanse of windows. Brown and Repton were both employed in the 18th cent. on the great park. The Thynne family, subsequently viscounts Weymouth and marquises of Bath, were among the earliest to perceive the commercial potential of aristocracy, and the lions of Longleat are probably better known than the architecture.

J. A. Cannon

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