snowdrop sundays mapperton

Snowdrop Sundays herald the coming of spring

Snowdrops – they’re only tiny, but here at Mapperton we love them because they are one of the first signs of spring!

We want to share them on our two popular Snowdrop Sundays on 5 and 12 February 2017.

The humble Galanthus nivalis (that’s ancient Greek and Latin for milk-white flower of snow) is among the first of the flowers to show their face.

Come to the Gardens and see the carpet of white spreading under the beech trees and alongside the paths in the spring garden.

The daffodils should be on their way too and velvety buds are appearing on the trees.

Snowdrop Sundays – two chances to visit

The Gardens will be open from 11am to 4pm on each of the Snowdrop Sundays.

Admission is £4.50 for adults and under-16s can come in for free. Proceeds will support the National Gardens Scheme and Perennial, the gardeners’ charity.

Thanks to the volunteers from the National Gardens Scheme locally, tea, coffee and a wonderful array of cakes will be available in the cosy Sawmill Café.

Don’t miss the chance to see the back of winter and join us soon.

“All the snow will melt; the cold winds will be driven away; we shall rule; all will become green, and then you will have companions, syringas, laburnums, and roses; but you are the first, so graceful, so delicate!” 

Extract from The Snowdrop, by Hans Christian Andersen.

Autumn Charity Garden Fair

Autumn Charity Garden Fair brought in the crowds

Crowds of green-fingered gardeners made the recent charity Garden Fair at Mapperton House the most successful autumn fair yet.

Almost 1,000 plant fans attended the Fair on 18 September and a share of the proceeds will go to Oxfam.

More than 25 specialist nurseries took part alongside craft, garden gift and food stands.

Lady Sandwich said: “ We were delighted that so many people took advantage of a perfect day and came to the Fair, which was our most successful autumn sale so far.

“Over the years many charities, both local and national, have benefited from the spring and autumn fairs.

“People who came to the Fair stayed on to take a walk around the gardens gardens or joined a guided tour of the house and enjoyed refreshments in the Sawmill Café. We are very much looking forward to the next plant fair in April.”

Don’t forget that Mapperton House and Gardens are open to the public until the end of October. We look forward to seeing you.

Maggie Wattling volunteer at Mapperton House

Volunteers needed to join the Mapperton House team!

Mapperton House is recruiting more volunteer guides.

Due to a significant increase in visitor numbers this year, extra members of the team are needed to show people round our beautiful Jacobean manor house, family home of the Earl of Sandwich.

Maggie Wattling, of South Perrott, has been taking tour groups round the house since the start of the season at Easter.

She says it is exciting and enjoyable and would appeal to anyone who loves meeting and talking to people.

“My husband and I had moved to Dorset from France last October. I am retired, but I thought I would like a little job,” says Maggie.

“Then I met a local lady who had rented a house on the Mapperton estate and she told me that Lord Sandwich was looking for people to be volunteers at the house.

“Lord Sandwich took me round to start with. He was so kind and he is a fund of stories.

“Being a guide here is all about people. I like to talk to and meet people and you meet so many here – different nationalities and visitors from all over Britain.

“We all have a set of notes and then we tell the tale in the way it works for us.

“I enjoy it very much and people are so nice. You need to be able to look somebody in the eye and speak to them, and perhaps put on a bit of a performance!”

Lord Sandwich says that ideally guides would have an interest in English history and heritage.

“Above all, they need patience and understanding of people’s needs, including the young, elderly and disabled. People who prefer not to be guides are valuable as stewards and as back-up for other volunteers,” he adds.

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

shakespeare much ado

Shakespeare in the Garden – it’s Much Ado About Nothing!

Pack a picnic and join us here in the garden at Mapperton to enjoy the open-air experience of one of Shakespeare’s greatest and most timeless comedies.

Much Ado About Nothing, will be performed on Saturday and Sunday, 16 and 17 July.

Touring from the University of Durham, the Castle Theatre Company presents the tale of two pairs of feuding lovers, complete with gossip, deception and the never-ending search for love.

After declaring their love for each other, Hero and Claudio pass the time by attempting to convince the stubborn Beatrice and outspoken Benedick to fall for each other.

But, after the villainous Don John’s slanders about Hero’s fidelity, Beatrice and Benedict are forced to reconcile to fix the situation.

After Don John’s deception has been exposed, along with all the unfounded accusations, the whole farce turns out to be “much ado about nothing!’

For more than 30 years, Castle Theatre Company has been running its annual summer Shakespeare tour around the south of England.

Returning to the stunning setting at Mapperton, this year’s Shakespeare in the Garden performance of classic Shakespeare comedy promises an afternoon or an evening of light-hearted family entertainment.

Performance times are on Saturday 16 July at 6.30pm and Sunday 17 July at 2.30pm. Picnic from 5pm on the Saturday and from 12.30pm on the Sunday.

Tickets are £15 for adults; £12 for concessions (senior citizens and under-18s), obtainable from the Beaminter Festival Box Office 01308 862943, until 2 July and then from the Mapperton Estate office on 01308 862645, or on the gate.

Mapperton cream tea

Mapperton celebrates National Cream Tea Day in style

Please do come to tea at Mapperton on Friday 24 June – and help us celebrate National Cream Tea Day!

On that day a garden entry ticket will be £10, which will include a delicious cream tea – using Mapperton Jam – at the Sawmill Café.

And because we like to do things properly, here are the Top Ten cream tea etiquette tips, courtesy of the Cream Tea Society.

  • Loose-leaf is best. Brew loose leaves in a cup, but remember to serve a second pot of hot water – just in case you’ve over-brewed.
  • If you don’t want to pour, don’t sit near the pot. The person nearest the pot should pour for everyone (if you’re clumsy, best make sure it’s not you).
  • Make the perfect brew. Allow the tea to brew for at least three minutes before pouring – time enough for the full flavour to infuse.
  • Tea before milk. Pour the tea first, followed by milk (so you can accurately judge the required strength) and then sugar.
  • Spoons on saucers, please. Once you’ve stirred, place your spoon on your saucer (think of the table cloth).
  • No outstretched pinkies! Always hold the cup between your thumb and forefinger. Contrary to popular opinion, sticking your little finger out does not a lady/gentleman make.
  • No knives needed. The perfect scone should break apart with a simple twist but they’re very useful for spreading the jam and cream!  Just make sure you’ve got your saucer to catch the crumbs.
  • Spoon then spread. If the table is laden with bowls of jam and cream, spoon your desired amount onto your plate first, before spreading them thick on your scone.
  • Jam before cream. While there’s much debate around which goes first (a dispute dividing Cornwall and Devon), etiquette gurus Debrett’s say you should spread your jam before dolloping cream on top.
  • A final word. Never use whipped cream. It’s utterly improper.
Charity Plant Fair Mapperton

Mapperton hosts a treat for gardeners

Keen gardeners are in for a treat when they get the chance to visit Dorset’s largest charity specialist Plant Fair and spend a day discovering beautiful Mapperton House and Gardens.

This is the 17th year that Mapperton, near Beaminster, has hosted the Fair, being held this year on Sunday 10 April. The Earl and Countess of Sandwich have picked the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance as the charity to benefit in 2016.

Special ticket price

Entry to the Plant Fair alone is £3. There is a special ticket price on the day of the fair of £6 for entry to Mapperton gardens, or £9 for the guided house tour and gardens; under 16s free.

More than 30 nurseries and garden-related stands will be displaying plants of all kinds as well as honey, cider, willowcraft, gifts, cards and garden ironware.

The Fair is open from 10am to 4pm and The Sawmill Café will be open for tea, coffee, home-baked cakes and light lunches.

The autumn plant fair at Mapperton will be held on Sunday 18 September.

More information at

The Dogwoods are looking magnificent in the Wild Garden

Lady Sandwich writes:

The dogwood or the cornus are common small trees in our English landscape and planted a lot by motorways and in public parks. But two special dogwoods are looking magnificent in the Wild Garden: Cornus controversa variegata and Cornus alternifolia argentea. Go down the main path and on your right you’ll see two variegated trees; well, one’s a bush and the other’s definitely a tree. They are just in flower and a wonderful sight.

They are cousins from different ends of the world and both can be called the “wedding cake tree” from the way their branches fan out in layers and their flowers stand like candles on the branches. Cornus controversa variegata (the tree) comes from the Himalayas, China and Japan and was imported to the UK in the 1880s or 1890s by the famous Veitch’s Nursery of Exeter (the Veitch family helped start Chelsea Flower Show). Its bushy cousin however comes from North America – from Newfoundland to the Mississippi – and is also called the “pagoda dogwood”.

Nobody’s certain why dogwoods are so called but they have had the name from the 17th century. One suggestion is that because their wood was used for wooden skewers (then called “dags”) the “dagwood” became the dogwood. Same word as dagger btw. Another early name was the “whippletree” in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, part of horse harness.