A country get away

Further to my previous post, the frustrating thing about life at the moment is trying to find out what is and isn’t open. Fortunately the National Trust is moving on with trying to open some of their houses as well as the larger gardens. Stourhead is completely open as are a number of others.

Unfortunately some of the smaller private estates that usually open at this time of year have obviously been struggling, but one not far from me is striving ahead in this regard. Marvellous Mapperton, home to the Earl and Countess of Sandwich, is a glorious Jacobean sandstone manor house set in a romantic valley surrounded by hills and rolling countryside. The house overlooks a 15 acre Italianate garden, with orangery, topiary and borders, descending ponds and arboretum. Unperturbed by the current situation they have striven to open and share the delights of the garden at this time of year. Given its location though, it’s a delight to visit anytime whether a fresh spring morning or a moody autumn afternoon – I’ve experienced both!

Usually a tour of the interior is a must but unfortunately that just isn’t going to happen at the moment.  The last time I visited a year ago was to make a specific inspection of the Staircase – not as bizarre as it sounds as I was trying to draw comparisons in design to my own stairs which might be by the same maker – John and William Bastard, generally known as the “Bastard Brothers”, who rebuilt Blandford Forum in 1731 after a disastrous fire, and were responsible for many fine buildings and interiors.

  “Throughout the house 16th, 17th and 18th centuries meet each other at every turn. Yet – and this is notably characteristic of Mapperton – they do not quarrel. Diversity never means discord. Rather the different ages combine to create an unexpected and richer harmony.” – Lord David Cecil, Some Dorset Country Houses, 1955

Cecil’s comment is a perfect observation on the house and indeed on anyone wishing to create a layered interesting interior today. Certainly worth a visit if you’re heading to the west country, if only to marvel at the gardens and exterior.