Mapperton House and Gardens is in West Dorset, just outside of Beaminster. It’s home to the Earl and Countess of Sandwich (and if you’re wondering, yes they’re related to the guy that invented the sandwich). I’ve visited here twice now, and I can’t wait to go back for a third time to take Fern – I know she’ll love it just as much as I do.
GETTING TO Mapperton House
Depending on where you’re coming from you’ll need to drive west (well, south west). From Dorchester it’ll take about 30 minutes – it’s really close to Beaminster and Bridport so once you’re finished at the house you can explore somewhere else close by. For better directions than ‘drive west’, head over to the Mapperton House website. The route is well signposted and there’s lots of parking available too.
There are two main types of ticket – Garden access only and House and Garden access. If you book online in advance you’ll save £2 on the entrance fee. And if you have the Gardeners’ World 2-for-1 card, you can use this here and save even more! Personally, I think that the ticket price is reasonable for what there is to offer. Don’t forget to check opening times and dates before you travel, but usually it’s open Sunday-Thursday (Closed Friday and Saturday) during March-October.
THINGS TO SEE
The Manor House
The Manor House is nestled at the heart of a working estate and is steeped in years of history. From the outside of the house you can see the influence of different centuries with each owner adding their mark. From Tudor and Jacobean to Georgian and more recently, the additions in the early and late 1900s, the house is a wonderful blend of time and architecture – something that I think is really special to the place. The estate has also been used in film, most recently for Far From the Madding Crowd starring Cary Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts.
To see the inside of the house you’ll need to book onto a guided tour, you can do this when you book online or on the day. I’ve never booked online and so far haven’t had trouble with getting the tour time of my choosing. Tours are usually between 12.00-15.00 and last for approximately an hour. The tour guides are really friendly, and have so much knowledge on the house, the owners (past and present) and their romantic, political and naval pursuits. Interestingly the house has been handed down the family through the female line, which I think is really cool!
One thing I should mention is that you’re not allowed to take photos of the inside of the house as it’s still a family home.
The gardens are beautiful and much like the house have been subject to centuries of style and influence. Walking from the left of the house down a small passage way, you’re met with a deep green, well-groomed croquet lawn complete with a garden pavilion. And to the right hidden behind the hedgerow is the Italianate gardens. You can tell that the various owners of the house have really cared for the property – it’s a really calming and peaceful environment (I think that all the water features really help with this). In my mind, the lower gardens are split into three main sections; the Fountain Court, the swimming pool and the pond which leads on to an arboretum and the woodland walk that heads to the sea.
In the Fountain Court is probably one of my favourite parts – the Orangery. Fern and I are really partial to a good Orangery. Sitting in there on a warm summers day with the breeze blowing through, the smell of the flowers in the air and the low hum of nature outside is my idea of heaven (and a hay fever sufferer’s worst nightmare).
Food and drink
On the estate there's the Coach House café; they serve breakfast until 11.45 and gourmet sandwiches, mains from 12.00-15.00 and of course, tea/coffee and cake (the triple chocolate brownie was amazing!). On the menu it says that the gourmet sandwiches were developed with the 11th Earl of Sandwich – which I hope is true!
Unfortunately, you can only eat your picnic in the car park. The outside benches are for customers of the café, and you can’t eat inside the gardens either.
Before you leave don’t forget to say hello to the tortoise, it’s an interesting quirk to the estate but I’m still not sure what the connection is…
Visited Mapperton House and Gardens? We'd love to see what you got up to, so make sure to tag us in any photos @deardorset and use #deardorset!
Good to know…
- Free parking available
- Range of ticket prices and options
- Coach House Café