Gardens on Screen

How Mapperton Gardens is finding a new role on film

By Historic Houses

Ice on the Fountain Pool at Mapperton (2020-01-01) by MappertonHistoric Houses

A Family Home

Mapperton is home to two generations of the Montagu family, the Earl and Countess of Sandwich and Luke and Julie Montagu. In the 21st century, the outstanding gardens that surround “the Nation’s finest Manor House”* have been finding a role on screen.  

Welcome to Mapperton House & Gardens! (2020-06) by MappertonHistoric Houses

Julie Montagu and the Countess of Sandwich in the Front Court at Mapperton (2020-11) by MappertonHistoric Houses

The Countess of Sandwich and Julie Montagu

Mapperton’s secret weapon is in the family. It is home to two generations of Montagus. Luke Montagu was a founding director of the Met Film School while Julie Montagu is an accomplished TV presenter and veteran of the Smithsonian Channel, now presenting her own You Tube channel

Autumn at Mapperton Gardens (2020-10) by MappertonHistoric Houses

Along the Valley

Mapperton has a sense of timelessness which filmmakers have not failed to notice. The formal gardens run the length of a steep-sided Dorset coombe with diverse locations - woodland, terraces, topiary, pools, summerhouses and barns – all two hours from London's film studios.

Autumn colours at the heart of the gardens at Mapperton (2020-10-15) by MappertonHistoric Houses

The Garden as Stage Set

There is a theatricality about Mapperton which suits its new role as a film location. Like two stage sets, The Fountain Garden, a formal Arts and Crafts garden of steps, terraces and topiary, spreads out above The Pool Garden where shaped yews march along a pair of ponds.

Filming of Restoration at Mapperton Gardens (1995) by MappertonHistoric Houses

Restoration, 1995

Restoration starring Robert Downey Jnr and Hugh Grant was filmed in The Fountain Court at Mapperton. This part of the garden dates from the early 20th century but its pots of tulips and topiary echo the fashions of the 1660s and made an ideal location for the Oscar winning film.

Springtime in the Fountain Court at Mapperton (2020-05-01) by MappertonHistoric Houses

The Fountain Court

The Fountain Court at Mapperton was designed by Mrs Ethel Labouchere in the 1920s, where she enjoyed painting watercolours. A Georgian-style Orangery was added in 1969. The Orangery is home to a profusion of tender plants including lemon and pomegranate trees and strelitzias. 

The Orangery at Mapperton (2020-01) by MappertonHistoric Houses

Filming Emma in the arboretum at Mapperton (1996) by MappertonHistoric Houses

Emma, 1996

Gwyneth Paltrow starred in Emma with Jeremy Northam in 1996, filmed in Mapperton Gardens. The drama, based on Jane Austen's novel, concludes with true love under the specimen trees of the arboretum. The manor house appears as Mrs Weston's home, Randalls.

The Arboretum at Mapperton in Dorset (2020-06) by MappertonHistoric Houses

The Arboretum at Mapperton

Planted by current owner’s grandfather, the arboretum at Mapperton is enjoyed not just for its rare trees but for its seclusion. It was consciously planned to form a link between the formal gardens and the surrounding countryside. In 1996, Mr Knightley proposed to Emma here.

The approach to Mapperton, Dorset (2020-06) by MappertonHistoric Houses

The Front Court

Historic gardens offer an authenticity to film makers that is hard to replicate. At Mapperton, the group of manor house, church and barns have survived centuries of change. The garden in the Front Court needs little dressing by filmmakers to evoke earlier centuries.

The cast of Far from the Madding Crowd at Mapperton (2015) by MappertonHistoric Houses

Far from the Madding Crowd, 2015

Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd was filmed at Mapperton in 2015, when The Front Court was transformed into the farm inherited by Bathsheba Everdene, played by Carey Mulligan. The production team make it clear why this was the perfect location.

Far From the Madding Crowd | 'Locations' | Featurette HD (2015) by Fox Searchlight Pictures. All Rights Reserved.Historic Houses

The formal gardens at Mapperton blend into the Dorset countryside beyond (2020-05-01) by MappertonHistoric Houses

The Pool Garden

There is drama in the lines of shaped yews planted down the length of the Pool Garden at Mapperton. The trees were planted later than the pools, which were formalised in the 1920s from a series of medieval fish ponds.

Filming of Rebecca at Mapperton Gardens (2019) by MappertonHistoric Houses

Rebecca, 2020

The gardens at Mapperton were immediately recognisable in Netflix's version of Rebecca. In the ball scene, strings of Chinese lanterns added to the spectacle of the topiary while in a later scene, an image of Manderley on fire was superimposed over the 17th century summerhouse.

A scene from Rebecca in the Gardens at Mapperton (2019) by MappertonHistoric Houses

Rebecca, 2020

The arboretum and Orangery at Mapperton were also locations for Rebecca, based on Daphne du Maurier's novel. Max and Mrs de Winter (Armie Hammer and Lily James) flirt among the trees while the Orangery at the top of the garden was the setting for an awkward family meeting. 

The Upper Pool in the Pool Garden at Mapperton (2020-05-01) by MappertonHistoric Houses

Mapperton on film

In the 2020 pandemic, Julie and Luke Montagu led online You Tube tours. Mapperton Live is now using film as a key way of reaching new audiences, attracting visitors and subscribers. Mapperton Gardens, hidden in a Dorset valley since the 1670s, has become a digital media pioneer

Credits: Story

Mapperton House & Gardens
Mapperton Live
*Country Life poll, 2006
Restoration: Miramax Films, all rights reserved
Emma: Miramax Films, all rights reserved
Far from the Madding Crowd: Fox Searchlight Pictures, all rights reserved
The Locations of Far From the Madding Crowd: the voices of Allon Reich, Producer; Kave Quinn, Production Designer; Andrew MacDonald, Producer.
Rebecca: Netflix, all rights reserved
Julie Montagu: Yoga, Tea and the British Aristocracy 

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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