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 firstname.lastname@example.org