MAPPERTON House and Gardens has opened its doors for a new season.

The country home, near Beaminster, will be open until October 31, from Sundays to Thursdays, 10am to 5pm.

The recently renovated Coach House café will be also be open, serving brunches, lunches and teas as well as a range of gourmet sandwiches.

The house will feature a new display highlighting three women who became distinguished Countesses of Sandwich: Jemima Crew, Elizabeth Wilmot and Louisa Corry. As part of the guided tour, visitors will be able to see photos and personal letters.

Lord Sandwich said: “These three very different women all made important contributions to the family, Jemima 1st Countess, much mentioned in Pepys’ diary, brought kindness and intelligence. Elizabeth 3rd Countess inherited great wit from her rakish father, Earl of Rochester. And Louisa 6th Countess, from Enniskillen, ran the estate and collected some of the unique furniture.”

Mapperton also welcomes a new staff member Paula Andrews who has joined the team as visitor and group Co-ordinator.

Paula recently completed a study of privately-owned country houses at Plymouth University, and has been helping Lord Sandwich develop the new exhibit.

“With this exhibit I feel we have captured the personality of all three countesses, especially Louisa, the 6th Countess. The letters highlight her wit and also the interest and compassion she feels for her family."

Mapperton will host several events this year, including two charity plant fairs (April and September), two classical concerts in the church (April and July), an Easter trail and fun days, Shakespeare in the Garden (July), Creepy Crawly Shows (August), a food & well-being fair (September), as well as Halloween fun days.