Why Ham House was Built In Richmond

(A Guest post by the National Trust)

The creators of Ham House certainly had an eye for the aesthetic. The view from the top of Richmond Hill later became the only one to be protected by an Act of Parliament. Its beauty has inspired artists, poets and writers for many centuries.

ham-houseIn practical terms as well, Richmond had plenty of advantages: The proximity of the royal palaces at Hampton Court and Richmond – combined with its relative closeness to central London – inspired the rich and famous to build great houses and riverside villas in the area.  Ham House was one of the earliest to be built.

Ham’s location on the river was also of crucial importance, for several reasons. For one, it was quicker and cheaper to travel by the river than on the inadequate and dangerous roads. This applied both to social trips and for the transportation of goods – Petersham was well-known for its highway men.

The river also provided a good source of food – as the fishing was plentiful.

And the alluvial soils close to the river provided rich pasture and fertile growing conditions for the numerous farms and market gardens that grew up around the Ham House estate.

But let’s not forget the river as a pleasure ground! The river was used for pleasure especially in the early part of the 19th century, when the first steam yachts were transporting tourists from London to Richmond on day trips.