Following last year’s record number of visitors to Mapperton House and its gardens, the Jacobean mansion – which featured in the 2015 film of Far from the Madding Crowd – will be open for guided tours in the afternoons, five days a week, from Easter Sunday until the end of October.
The house overlooks the stunning Italianate garden with topiary, grottos and pools, leading to a wild garden which rolls into the scenic valley below.
Voted “the nation’s finest manor house” by Country Life magazine, Mapperton, near Beaminster, has been the home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich for the past 30 years. However management of the historic house and estate is now passing to their son, Viscount Hinchingbrooke, who intends to turn the property into a more widely-known tourist destination.
Plans to improve facilities for visitors this year include the conversion of part of a stable block into a new ticket office and shop, as well as the provision of a new car park.
The Earl of Sandwich says: “We are really looking forward to welcoming more visitors to Mapperton House this year. Until now the house has mainly been open on July and August afternoons, but this year we will be taking small groups on guided tours throughout the season (with the exception of Fridays and Saturdays).”
His son Lord Hinchingbrooke adds: “We have lodged a planning application for various changes which should make a big difference to visitors. These include a new car park, shop and ticket office, as well as improvements to the area outside the popular Sawmill Café.”
“We hope to complete the first phase of work this year, while in the longer term we plan to build a new drive to the car park, which will provide visitors with a splendid view of the house as they arrive.”
“We’re delighted to open our home to visitors and we hope they will come and spend a day here, touring the gardens and getting an inside view of a very special historic house and family collection.”