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



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

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer guide should contact 01308 862645 or email

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

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