Viscountess Emma Weymouth: 'I want to bring everything back to Longleat - even the pineapples'

Craig Simpson
·4-min read
Viscountess Emma Weymouth - David M. Benett/Getty Images Contributor
Viscountess Emma Weymouth - David M. Benett/Getty Images Contributor

When Viscountess Emma Weymouth signed up to compete in last year's Strictly Come Dancing, she said she couldn't wait for the opportunity to showcase her stylish flair dressed in "fabulous outfits".

Now Britain's first black marchioness is allowing her creative juices to flow once more as she plots the transformation at one of the country's most eccentric estates.

The 34-year-old, now titled Lady Bath following the death of her flamboyant father-in-law Alexander earlier this year, has vowed to revive the fortunes of the Longleat Estate in Wiltshire.

The London-born socialite has outlined her vision for the 9,000-acre ancestral seat which was inherited to her husband Ceawlin Thynn, the 8th Marquess of Bath.

Watch: 'I want to keep dancing' Emma Weymouth gets emotional discussing her Strictly journey

Projects in the pipeline include launching the first Longleat fashion show, sprucing up the gardens and a return to growing pineapples, once produced in "huge quantities" on the grounds.

“I see my role as a practical thing,” she told high society magazine Tatler. “As a wife, mother and someone with a responsibility to maintain this incredible estate.

“I want to do this majestic estate justice because I think it deserves it. It was built in 1580 and it is our job to leave it in better shape for the next generation. It deserves to be loved.”

The estate, which includes a 130-room Elizabethan house and drive-through safari park, had become renowned as one of the most eccentric in the country following the near 30-year-old ownership of Alexander Thynn, the 7th Marquess.

Nicknamed the “Loins of Longleat”, the former Lord Bath was known for having numerous partners living on his country estate, and for his peculiar fashion sense.

Longleat, in Wiltshire, is an Elizabethan stately home and the seat of the Marquess of Bath - Heritage Images/ Hulton Archive
Longleat, in Wiltshire, is an Elizabethan stately home and the seat of the Marquess of Bath - Heritage Images/ Hulton Archive

The then proprietor pursued a career as an artist adorning the walls of his Tudor manstion with his erotic murals and unsuccessfully stood as a parliamentary candidate for the the Wessex Regionalist Party in the 1974 general election.

The alleged removal of his paintings orchestrated by his son was reported to have caused a family rift.

The couple were handed the reins of the estate in April following the death of the 7th Marquess of Bath, who died at the Royal United hospital in Bath, where he tested positive for coronavirus. He was 87. His successors have indicated 2021 could signal a fresh start for Longleat.

“I have my list,” Lady Bath said of her ambitions for the estate, which includes a Dolce & Gabbana-inspired “fashion show at Longleat”.

She added: “I want to bring everything back to Longleat: the Capability Brown-designed kitchen gardens. I’d love a floristry. And pineapples. They used to grow them in huge quantities because they were such a status symbol.”

The estate has been starved of visitors during the pandemic but is set to reopen on December 3 following the conclusion of England's second national lockdown.

Tatler January 2021 Issue - Simon Emmett
Tatler January 2021 Issue - Simon Emmett

Born to a Nigerian oil tycoon, Ladi Jadesimi, and British woman, Suzanna McQuiston, Lady Bath broke new ground this year by becoming Britain's first black marchioness.

But the mother-of-two has indicated she doesn't want the milestone to define her work.

She said: “I aspire to a future where [my skin colour] is not a defining characteristic.” Instead, she said her focus was fixed on maintaining Longleat for future generations.

“All of what I do is for my children really. They are my everything.”

Although known in high-society through her socialite mother and oil magnate father, Lady Bath became better known to the public at large last year on Strictly Come Dancing when she was known as Viscountess Emma Weymouth.

She was paired with Aljaž Škorjanec, who she has remained in touch with, after the couple were voted off in the seventh week of the competition.

“He’s been a real rock through lockdown. We all had Strictly Zoom quizzes to keep our spirits up,” she added.

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