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 firstname.lastname@example.org