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Mapperton House, Dorset

See also Mapperton Garden

Mapperton House by Barbara Ballard Mapperton House and Gardens lie in a valley in the county of Dorset surrounded by countryside views. It is the home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich.

Mapperton House by Barbara Ballard Mapperton is one of Dorset’s oldest manors. It was, at the time of the Domesday Book, owned by the sheriff of Somerset, then was home to four families (Bretts, Morgans, Brodrepps, Comptons), inherited through the female line up to 1919 when Mrs Ethel Labourchere bought it. In 1955 it came to the Montagu family. Famous inhabitants include Edward Montague, the first Earl of Sandwich, who was Charles II's first general-at-sea. His cousin was Samuel Pepys. The fourth earl is famous for creating the first sandwich, named after him.

Visitors can see the north wing and its twisted chimneys from Tudor times (1540). In 1665-6 the buildings came under the influence of the plague, which killed off a large number of the people living on the estate, resulting in many buildings becoming derelict. At this time the west front and hall, along with two stable blocks and a dovecot were built.

Mapperton House side view by Barbara Ballard It wasn’t until the 18th century that the balustrade, Georgian staircase hall, and north front were constructed. A tour reveals the original Tudor ceiling in the drawing room along with the plaster work and fireplaces of the 1600s. There are pictures by Lely, Reynolds, Hogarth and others. Rare furniture includes Louis XV commodes and a Gillow suite in the Egyptian style.

On a tour of the house visitors can see the old hall which is now used as a sitting room. It extended to the dining room before part was blocked off as an entrance hall. An arts and crafts ceiling was installed by owner Mrs Ethel Labourchere. The fireplace is original Tudor and has a coat of arms of the marquis of Winchester. Panelling in the room dates from the 17th century. Paintings in the room include a Lely portrait of Edward Montagu, the fourth earl and one of Jemima first countess.

Mapperton House dovecot by Barbara Ballard The staircase hall has a carved arch and rococo stucco ceiling. Edward, the 1st earl, has his portrait here, and another painting is of the battle of Sole bay during which he drowned. Louis XV furniture pieces, some from Versailles, decorate the hall. In the drawing room are an original Tudor ceiling and pictures and furniture from the time of the 4th earl. One portrait of the earl is by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

The dining room panelling dates from the time of William and Mary while the furniture is Jacobean. In this room are a c 1700 Flemish tapestry, George III table, and George II lyre-back chairs. Naval paintings adorn the walls.

Mapperton House church by Barbara Ballard All Saints church, on the property, dates from medieval times but was remodelled in 1704 and 1846. At this time the gallery was removed and the porch was added. Dating from the 13th century is the south doorway, while the west tower and blocked door are 15th century. Both the choir stalls and pulpit are Jacobean. Some of the yellow stained glass roundels date from the 1540s. There is an underground family vault. European stained glass mostly dates from the 1600s. There is a monument by Peter Scheemakers to Richard Brodrepp (died 1737) and two angels by Cecil Thomas.

Visitor Information

Located on minor road off B3163 or A3066 near Bridport, Dorset
Tel. 0 1308 862 645
Open: house, third week June-end July and BH June-Aug, weekdays, 2-4.30pm or by appt; gardens and church, March-end Oct, daily except Sat, 11am-5pm; Sawmill cafe from March-Sep, daily except Saturday 11am-5.30pm; small shop
Web: Mapperton Garden
Mapperton is a member of the Historic Houses Association

Insider Tip: The Sawmill café serves excellent fresh and local produce in a pleasant atmosphere. Plan on lunch or afternoon tea. Plants are available for purchase.


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Some of our Dorset Articles
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Sherborne Castle
Mapperton House
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Sherborne Abbey
Thomas Hardy’s Dorset
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Riding the Swanage Steam Railway
Portland and Chesil Beach
Portland Bill Lighthouse
Lulworth Castle and Park
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Minterne Gardens and House
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Mapperton Garden
Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens
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