Ham House, located alongside the River Thames in Richmond, is considered to be one of Europe's greatest 17th century houses still in existence today.
Originally built for the Stuarts, the house and its beautiful gardens have survived the most tumultuous periods in English history. Journey back in time and discover for yourself the architectural grandeur of Ham House and the richness of its treasures and relics accumulated through the centuries. The house is now managed and maintained by the National Trust.
There are many great historic buildings in the area, you can see our list here.
The house was built in 1610 by Sir Thomas Vavasour, Knight Marshal to James I of the House of Stuart. Originally bestowed by James I to his son Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, Ham House was inherited by James' second son following Henry Frederick's death in 1618. It was then passed on to John Ramsay, 1st Earl of Holderness in 1620 and was eventually leased to William Murray, first Earl of Dysart and close childhood friend of Charles I.
From William Murray down to William John Manners Tollemache, the 9th Earl of Dysart, the family has left an indelible aesthetic imprint of elegance on the house. Many of the improvements and renovations that have survived to the present day were in fact conceptualized by Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Dysart around the time of the English Civil War.
In 1948, Sir Lyonell Tollemache, the last owner of the property related to the Dysarts, donated Ham House and the adjoining grounds to the National Trust.
The beautifully maintained gardens at Ham House are a stunning sight.
We particularly love the manicured gardens to the side of the house and the wilderness to the rear. If you're a nature lover or bird watcher you're going to love seeing the large flock of green parakeets that have made the chestnut trees in the outer courtyard their occasional home.
Ham House is said to be haunted by the ghosts of its previous inhabitants. In the past, visitors claim to have seen apparitions inside the house and some have reported seeing the Duchess of Lauderdale and her dog running through the vast corridors. The haunting stories became even more well-known when the Ghost Club came to look into the documented sightings. Investigators say that they have recorded certain events inside the house and in the surrounding grounds that they were unable to explain scientifically.
The beautiful facade and interiors of Ham House make it a favourite filming location for movie and television productions. It was featured quite recently in the 2012 sci-fi fantasy hit John Carter. It also served as Vronky's quarters for an Anna Karenina film adaptation in 2012.
If you're driving, there's a car park right beside the river at the end of Ham Street. If you're using public transportation, two bus lines serve the route - the 65 from Richmond railway station has a bus stop in Petersham Road while the 371 service stops at Sandy Lane. If you have time, the walk (about 40 minutes) along the river from Richmond to Ham House is highly recommended. Or if you're on the Twickenham side why not walk down to Marble Hill and cross the River at Hammerton's Ferry.
- Be sure to watch the 10-minute introductory film about the house and surrounding grounds in the dairy.
- Don't miss visiting the grounds, walled garden, and the Kitchen Garden.
- All the fresh fruits and vegetables produced here are served at the Tea Room.
- Enjoy the paintings, sculptures, and tapestries inside, look out for the beautiful Elizabeth miniature.
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Father's Day is approaching, it's probably a good idea to book a table for lunch pretty soon.