A NEWLY published book reveals the history of a manor house, uncovering tales of murder and intrigue within the estate.

'Mapperton' takes a look into the story of Mapperton House near Beaminster, which is now the family home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich.

The book has been produced by Dr Tim Connor, former head of history at a major public school and an architectural historian, currently residing in West Dorset.

Dr Connor said: “The book is a history, not just of the ‘big house’ but also of the little parish in which it stands, from the mid-sixteenth century, when individuals begin to be more fully knowable in the records, up to the present.

“What one can know about the past depends on surviving records, visual as well as written, and in some respects Mapperton turns out to be much better recorded than most of the villages nearby. A fire in Blandford in the 1700s destroyed many family papers but Mapperton’s were safe because they were kept in Salisbury.”

Dr Connor traces the story of Mapperton from the manorial line of inheritance from the middle ages to the house and gardens as they are today.

During his research Dr Connor has uncovered tales of murder and local intrigue, with two executions relating to the estate. One was of a murderer who lived in the manor house, and the other of a Catholic missionary priest who was born in the parish.

Both were executed within a few years of each other during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, and letters written by both just hours before death have survived hundreds of years later.

“Chance preserves knowledge of two very different executions; one of a murderer who lived in the manor house, the other of a Catholic missionary priest born in the parish,” he explains.

The Countess of Sandwich said: “This is the first complete history of Mapperton, telling gripping stories of the Morgans, Brodrepps and other families who have lived in this parish over the last 600 years, descending often through the female line.

“The author has found his way into libraries and archives during the lockdown and has produced a range of incidents and lives of characters connected with Mapperton and surrounding farms. He also links in the national story of Catholics versus Protestants, cavaliers and roundheads, Whigs and Tories, so that the reader is given a refreshing history lesson, just in time for Christmas.”

The book is available from Mapperton Estate office and a number of local bookshops.