Could you be a volunteer guide at Mapperton?

One of the 18th century’s most infamous and shocking murders has a particular resonance for one of the volunteer guides at Mapperton House and Gardens.

Singer Katharine Halliwell, joined the team of guides at Mapperton, near Beaminster, this year.

Katharine, who is well-known classical soloist soprano, who performs as Katharine Fuge, was fascinated to learn about the shocking murder in 1779 of Martha Ray, the mistress of John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich.

After his wife Dorothy had been certified as mentally ill, the 4th Earl lived openly with Martha Ray, a celebrated singer of the time.

But in a plot that wouldn’t be out of place in a modern soap opera, a jealous lover stalked her to the then Theatre Royal in London’s Covent Garden and shot her in cold blood.

Katharine says: “As a singer, I am particularly known for specialising in music of the Baroque and classical period, so it has been intriguing to learn about the history of the Montagu family and especially the story of Martha Ray.

“One of Martha’s portraits at Mapperton has her holding a music score and how she came from very humble beginnings to live in Georgian high society and come to such an end is fascinating.”

Katharine, who lives in Bridport, joined the team of volunteers who show visitors round Mapperton, the family home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich, earlier this year after she visited the house and gardens.

“I was just enchanted and asked if there were opportunities to volunteer.

“I love learning about how the family history interconnects and it just wants to make you find out more. And it is lovely to meet the visitors, show them round and share the history of Mapperton and of the Montagu family.”

Lord Sandwich says: “We are delighted to welcome Katharine to the team of Mapperton volunteers.

“As a noted classical singer herself, she can bring so much to the story of Martha Ray and the 4th Earl of Sandwich and bring that era alive for our visitors.”

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer guide for the 2019 season should contact 01308 862645 or email office@mapperton.com


October Halloween Fun Days

Thursday 25th October, Friday 26th October and Saturday 27th October

11am to 4pm

Twitch the Witch show times: 11.30am 12.30pm 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm

Hair-raisingly fantastic half term activities for the whole family including gunge-packed game shows from Strawberry Jam’s Twitch the Witch and blood-tinged entertaining enactments from an olden days tormented Surgeon.

Are your kids too young to enjoy scary evening events?  Our fun days are perfect for toddlers and younger children and offer a family-friendly daytime alternative.

Our garden map will hold the clues to a spooky Halloween trick or treat trail and lead you to the witches secret cottage, we dare you to knock on her door!

Fancy dress encouraged, and entry includes free face painting.

Our Halloween fun days are suitable for all ages and are an all-weather event with plenty of undercover space available. The Sawmill Cafe will be open serving light meals including children’s lunches, cakes, hot and cold drinks and ice-creams.  Ghoulish hot chocolate and ghastly cakes will also be on sale!

Ticket prices £9 each for adults and £5 each for children aged 3-15 years old, pre-order tickets with £1 discount are available now and a Kids go Free voucher will be printed in the local newspapers the week before half term.

The postcode for Mapperton House and Gardens is DT8 3NR.

Mapperton Wedding Showcase 2018

Say “I do” to discovering Dorset’s finest country house wedding venue on Saturday 8th September when we open our doors for the Mapperton Wedding Showcase.

View Mapperton dressed in elegant splendour, sample potential dishes for your wedding breakfast, taste fine wines, wander the stunning gardens and find your inspiration for a truly romantic and happy day.

Our dedicated wedding co-ordinators will be delighted to talk through your ideas, and our in-house events team will be on hand with complimentary bubbly. We’ll be joined by a select team of talented local suppliers, all of whom are passionate about weddings and happy to discuss your requirements.

Showcase visitors will have exclusive access to Mapperton, allowing you time to stroll around the elegant Garden Pavilion where you can exchange your vows, picture your guests celebrating with champagne outside the stunning Orangery, look around our medieval church and imagine enjoying the peace and tranquillity of our hidden gem setting.

The recently converted Coach House is a perfect spot for your wedding breakfast, seating up to 120 guests, or more for a buffet style reception, and we’ll showcase sample layout options for you to consider.

Follow Mapperton Weddings on Faceook for all the updates- we’ll be offering further exclusive showcase offers; pre-register for the showcase to make sure you don’t miss out.

Entrance to the Wedding Showcase is free and Mapperton have teamed up with the Dorset Echo for an exciting competition prize, drawn on the day at the event, offering one lucky winning couple their 2019 Mapperton wedding worth £7,500 completely FREE; look out for the competition form in the Bridport News and Echo during August, closing date for entries is 31st August and you’ll need to attend on the day to be in the final six.


Summer events Mapperton

Summer events and entertainment at Mapperton

A summer of very special events is planned at Mapperton House and Gardens.

From the Mapperton Creepy Crawly Show, featuring three days of family fun and a hands-on display of reptiles and insects, to concerts, open-air theatre and a wedding showcase, the stunning setting of Mapperton is set to become a popular venue for entertainment of all kinds.

Mapperton’s new Sawmill Café and Coach House venue are at the heart of the packed events calendar, providing a fully equipped space for all kinds of entertainment, with delicious food on offer from the Café team.

The Creepy Crawly Show will be held from August Bank Holiday Monday until Wednesday 28 August when there will be the chance to explore World Life Conservation’s collection of exotic creatures from around the world including spiders, scorpions, centipedes, millipedes, cockroaches, stick insects, snakes, lizards, tortoises and more.

Open-air Shakespeare is back with a musical version of Hamlet on 19 August in the gardens and The Skimmity Hitchers are performing their very own very special brand of “scrumpy and western” in The Coach House at 2pm on Saturday 15 September.

A Wedding Showcase will be held on Saturday 8 September to let brides and grooms-to-be see how their dream day can become reality at Mapperton.

The ever-popular Autumn Charity Plant Fair on 16 September brings the summer season to a close.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke says: “We have put together a magnificent calendar of summer events, with something for all ages to enjoy.

“The new Sawmill Café and Coach House provide a wonderful base for us to hold shows and activities, with outstanding locally-sourced food & drink.

“We’re hoping Mapperton will become a really popular new venue in the Beaminster area for entertainment, corporate events, weddings and celebrations of all kinds.

“We are lucky to live in such a beautiful place and we are looking forward to sharing it with more visitors.”

The Sawmill Café and the adjoining Coach House venue have been transformed with the aid of a £140,000 LEADER grant from the Southern Dorset Local Action Group, which aims to support rural businesses and promote tourism away from coastal areas.

The Coach House is a new multi-purpose events space with seating for up to 120 or 200 standing. It is equipped with a full AV system, controllable lighting and is heated by a new biomass boiler.

2018 Mapperton Events Calendar

Sunday 19 August – Musical Shakespeare in the Gardens – Hamlet

The Three Inch Fools are a five-strong troupe of actors with all manner of musical instruments, performing a highly imaginative and vibrantly musical take on Shakespeare’s plays. 2.30pm.

Monday 27 August to Weds 29 August. The Mapperton Creepy Crawly Show. Free with paid entry to Mapperton Gardens.

Saturday 8 September – Mapperton Wedding Showcase.

Saturday 15 September – Skimmity Hitchers at the Coach House. 2.30pm.

Sunday 16 September – Autumn Charity Plant Fair. 10am to 4pm. Share of proceeds to Cancer Research UK.

27th, 28th, 29th August – Mapperton Creepy Crawly Show

Go wild this summer with the

Mapperton Creepy Crawly Show!

Bank Holiday Monday 27th August,

Tues 28th August

& Weds 29th August

10am to 4pm

Free with paid entry to Mapperton Gardens

Join us to explore exotic animals from around the world including spiders, scorpions, centipedes, millipedes, cockroaches, stick insects, snakes, lizards, tortoises and more!

Educational and entertaining 20 minute shows and handling sessions by World Life Conservation at:

10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm

Or wander through and say hello in your own time!  Husband and wife team World Life Conservation will be on hand to tell visitors all about their Creepy Crawly creatures.

In the tent for you to interact with…if you dare:

Bearded Dragon

Desert Hairy Scorpion

Leopard Gecko


Giant African Land Snail


Asian Forest Scorpion

Salmon Pink Bird Eater


The transformed Sawmill Cafe reopens

Visitors enjoying lunch outside The Sawmill Café at Mapperton House & Gardens

West Dorset has a new eating and meeting space with the reopening of our Sawmill Café and Coach House.

And as befits the family home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich, Lord Sandwich himself has created a range of sandwiches based on classic British favourites, including roast beef with watercress and horseradish sauce, as a tribute to what is often acknowledged to be the original sandwich invented by his ancestor.

The Sawmill Café and the adjoining Coach House venue have been transformed with the aid of a £140,000 LEADER grant from the Southern Dorset Local Action Group, which aims to support rural businesses and promote tourism away from coastal areas.

Cheese Ploughmans

As well as catering for visitors it is hoped that the Sawmill Café will attract residents too, providing good value local food and – when combined with the Coach House – a space for groups and business meetings.

The Coach House is a new multi-purpose events space with seating for up to 120 or 200 standing. It is equipped with a full AV system, controllable lighting and is heated by a new biomass boiler. Available for weddings, parties and corporate hire, a calendar of events is being developed including classical music with Cellist Guy Johnston on 7 July, and a gig with local band the Skimmity Hitchers on 15 September.

If you would like to discuss hiring our new space for a private event or party please contact events@mapperton.com


Volunteer Ruth discovers the Grand Tour at Mapperton

Ruth Harger, one of Mapperton’s new volunteer guides, says she is excited to be learning about the history of the Montagu family and Mapperton – and the latest display for visitors.

Ruth, from Drimpton, who has recently retired after 15 years working in NHS Primary Care, latterly at a Chard medical practice, is joining the team of volunteers who show visitors round Mapperton, the family home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich.

She says: “I was missing the day to day contact with people, so I looked on a volunteering website and saw that Mapperton always needs new guides. I met Lord Sandwich and loved the idea of showing people round and telling them about the family history and the house.

“I am looking forward to doing plenty of research and reading as well as shadowing other guides in preparation for meeting visitors!”

Ruth has learned that the theme chosen this year is about the 18th century ‘gap year’ known as the Grand Tour, in this case the voyage round the Mediterranean undertaken by John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, at the age of 21.  This will be the subject of a new display for visitors when the house reopens for guided tours on 1 April.

While most of his contemporaries contented themselves with visits to France and Italy, in 1738 the young Earl, accompanied by his friend, William Ponsonby, chartered a boat, and set sail from Naples, visiting the Mediterranean islands en route to Greece, Turkey and Egypt.

With them was the fashionable Swiss portrait painter Jean-Etienne Liotard, who frequently painted European travellers in Turkish costume and himself enthusiastically adopted Oriental dress during his time in the Near East.

Lord Sandwich says: “We are delighted to welcome Ruth to our team of Mapperton volunteers.

“The travels of the 4th Earl are fascinating and we have the original journal of his voyage, which was published in book form after his death. I hope all our visitors will enjoy finding out more about another colourful side of his life.”

Mapperton House is open from 1 April until 31 October 2018 from 12pm to 4pm, Sundays to Thursdays. The House can be visited by guided tour only. More information at www.mapperton.com

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer guide should contact 01308 862645 or email office@mapperton.com

Mapperton wedding venue

Mapperton awarded £140,000 grant for wedding venue conversion

Mapperton Estate has been awarded a grant of almost £140,000 by the Southern Dorset Local Action Group.

The LEADER grant of £139,782 will go towards converting a 17th century coach house into a new wedding venue and providing improved facilities for visitors. The project is expected to create seven new jobs at Mapperton House & Gardens near Beaminster.

Voted the ‘nation’s finest manor house’ by Country Life magazine, Mapperton is the family home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich.

As part of an ongoing programme of improvements, the conversion of the coach house will also include a new café, commercial kitchen and lavatories. A new access road and parking area were laid this summer.

Luke Montagu, Viscount Hinchingbrooke, said: “We are very pleased that LEADER has chosen to fund this conversion project, which we believe will become Dorset’s finest country house wedding venue, bringing more employment and wider economic benefits to the area.

“The Coach House will be a unique entertainment space which will host weddings and other events for up to 120 people. In addition, we will convert part of the building into a new café alongside other improvements for visitors.

“The building will be heated by our new biomass boiler system, using wood harvested from the estate.

“We hope the work will start in November and expect it to be completed around April next year.

Sir Christopher Lees, chair of the Southern Dorset LAG Executive Committee added: “This project was strongly supported by the Southern Dorset LAG. The money will help provide a far better experience for the visitors to Mapperton, and, in the Committee’s view, promote tourism away from the coast in the beautiful countryside of Dorset.

“We are immensely proud to be able to support this expansion by Mapperton Estate, as it will provide sustainability to the business and added employment in the heart of Dorset.”

The project has been designed by Raise Architects based in Sherborne and led by Andy Foster.

He said: “Converting a 17th century building into a contemporary entertaining space is both challenging and highly rewarding.

“Apart from two new doorways the internal fabric of the building will remain untouched, and visitors will therefore be able to appreciate the exposed stonework, orignal cross beams, wall posts and corbels.

“The building will however benefit from the addition of roof insulation, new timber flooring and many of the external doors will be restored.

“Raise Architects are passionate about finding new uses for historic buildings and are delighted to be working on such an important Dorset conservation project.”

LEADER is part of the Rural Development Programme for England, where the local community decides where grants would have the most benefit. Opportunities to increase the length of the tourist season and create full time, year round employment are priorities for the Southern Dorset Local Action Group.

Grants are European funding and as such are available until 2019. Applications are welcomed by the LAG at any time for capital projects in small and micro businesses, farming, forestry, rural communities and tourism.


Mapperton Dorset volunteers

Would you like to join the Mapperton team of volunteers?

A call has gone out for more volunteers to join the team showing off Mapperton House and Gardens to visitors.

Guided tours of the Jacobean manor house near Beaminster give small groups of visitors the opportunity to see inside the family home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich.

One volunteer is Annemarie Henham, former head of school at a Nottinghamshire comprehensive.

Annemarie, who moved to Chilfrome in Dorset after her retirement, is now helping to set up an education programme for young people in the local community.

“I had been to Mapperton to look round the gardens when we were househunting – and it was absolutely gorgeous,” she said.

“Then my husband mentioned that they were looking for volunteers and I came along to find out more. However – in addition to volunteering – I’ve also been helping Mapperton create its first education programme for schools.

“This is an exciting new venture and we are looking forward to inviting teachers to Mapperton in September so they can see at first hand what a wonderfully rich learning environment it is. Mapperton offers a wealth of opportunities for young learners to explore, engage, and be inspired. ”

Luke Montagu, Viscount Hinchingbrooke, said that Mapperton’s team of volunteers is key to providing visitors with a memorable experience.

“We are always looking for new volunteers to join our team, and would very much like to hear from anyone with an interest in British history who enjoys  meeting and talking to new people.

“We’re very lucky to be working with Annemarie who has kindly volunteered as a tour guide.  With her background as a head of school, Annemarie is also helping us set up a new education programme which we plan to launch later this year.

“All our volunteers come from very diverse backgrounds and each brings something different to their roles here.”

Volunteers are entitled to travel expenses and light refreshments in the Sawmill Café for each visit.

Anyone interested should contact the Estate Office on 01308 862645 or email office@mapperton.com.

Samuel Pepys exhibit to highlight historic Restoration

Diaries by the 1st Earl of Sandwich and his cousin Samuel Pepys, marking an historic royal moment, will be a highlight for visitors to Mapperton House, this summer.

The day King Charles II boarded a ship on the coast of Holland to return from exile on 23 May 1660 was chronicled by both men, who were in attendance on the Charles, formerly the Naseby.

The then Admiral Edward Montagu was head of the fleet and captained the ship on the King’s triumphal return to English soil after nine years.

Samuel Pepys, the famous diarist, and Montagu’s younger cousin, was a clerk in the Navy Office at the time and later became Secretary to the Navy, responsible for preparing the fleet for the Dutch Wars.

Later given the title of Earl of Sandwich as recognition for his part in restoring Charles to the throne, Edward Montagu’s handwritten journal gives a fascinating picture of a hugely important day in the history of the English monarchy.

Pepys’ writings include lively and often amusing accounts direct from the King on how his dishevelled state meant he was often mistaken for a “rogue’ during his flight from Cromwell’s forces and how he at one point was forced to drink alcohol to prove he wasn’t a Roundhead.

The Earl of Sandwich says: ”Samuel Pepys captures everyone’s imagination and he seems the perfect vehicle to explain what was happening in the 17th century, especially when the King came back to claim the throne.

“The soon-to-be 1st Earl was given the task of bringing his Majesty home on board his ship, the newly renamed ‘Charles’.

“We hope our visitors will enjoy this exhibit and we are very lucky to have our team of volunteer guides on hand to help us interpret these wonderful stories.”

Mapperton House is open for guided tours from 2 April 2017.