Strictly Private - Book 1: The Early Years
Excerpt from chapter one
So how should I appreciate Longleat?
This vast Elizabethan stately home is the only stage that I have ever known, but it is also a magnificent one to find there beneath my feet, with a mystique and legend about the place, such as might inspire embroidery and exaggeration of any kind. Take a glimpse at the way it is viewed nowadays, by some people - namely the Ufologists. Their legend about the place runs something like this.
Longleat has always been a holy site. They would say that central Wessex abounds with such sites, with Glastonbury, Stonehenge and Amesbury as prominent examples. Yet strategically at the centre of this triangle stands Longleat, on land (as they argue) which may have been the holiest site of them all. They speculate that long before the priory which once occupied the site, it was an even holier place. They point to the saucer-shaped cradle of the park, (an area just short of one thousand acres,) and proclaim sagely that this is the point where the first immigrants from outer space landed and garaged their vehicle, now discreetly buried beneath several fathoms of earth.
Permission has been requested for archaeological digs that would uncover the ship which transported them hither, but we have always managed to discourage such enthusiasm, in that their spades and bulldozers might derange some of the park's superb natural beauty. An idea which has never been disproved however, gathers force, and it does furnish comfort for my family in that, if it be true, then when the day of the final holocaust approaches, the galactic ship will finally take flight, bearing the selected inhabitants of Earth (as if in some latter-day Noah's Ark) to a safer galaxy.
From my very persistence in residing there, I might assume that I am numbered amongst those chosen few. In any case the incentive exists, as you must well understand, for me to remain close to Longleat whenever life begins to look dangerous, although I dread the day when the Exodus panic really takes hold, and there is a sustained determination within a whole cult to come and dwell in what we do still regard as our home park. But whether their speculation be true or false as a description of the way in which our known world will finally come to an end, this family temple does furnish for me at least an irrational status of serenity and security, such as they proclaim.