Ham House & Garden (London - England)

Close to Richmond Park is this place called Ham House. Very similar to Eltham Palace this is also a palatial villa of the Dukes and Duchesses of the era bygone!
This was built in 1610 by William Murray and his daughter Elizabeth, the Duchess of Lauderdale. Willaim Murray was the classmate of King Charles I and friend since childhood. So, King Charles gave this property as a gift! Presently this property is under National Trust and again I don't understand how come this is under it and not English Heritage! Confused!!!

Even before entering, in the huge space of greenery with a Grecian looking sculpture on the centre. Along the compound wall are bust sculptures of various people. The staircase that lead to the first floor looks spectacular. Esp the engraving on either sides was made in 1638 and each and every panel look different feat armour, weapons, animals etc. There are fabulous masterpieces of paintings along the stairs on the wall. 
The 2nd floor and 3rd floor are where Mrs.Henderson's room and Servants' room, which were not accessible. In the 1st floor is the Long Gallery filled with several portrait paintings of various people. At the end of this gallery are 2 sections to the left and right. 
On the right is the huuuuge library. William Murray and Elizabeth originally had thousands of books. Later on many of the books were sold to maintain the palace. However later, the remainder of the 1000 books have been preserved in his library incl his study table, his chair and ladder. But what attracted me the most were the 2 globes and 2 maps of the era bygone. One of the globes is too damaged and is kept closed in its own leather case. In the map, Australia alone wasn't mapped properly by connected PNG & NZ! 
Another factor that I particularly noticed was ofcouse India Map. All the trade areas were marked which are not essentially important locales in today's world! Surat (mapped as Sourat) where textile trade happened, Golconda (trade centre close to Kohinoor where the Queen's Crown diamond comes from), Malabar, Cochin (where spice trade happened) Coromandal Coast incl Madras, Pondicherry, Gingi (where Calico trade happened) etc were marked. There is no mention of Mumbai or Delhi which are important places today!!!


On the left are 3 chambers of the Queen. The 1st room is filled with incredible folding room separators from China and tapestries from Belgium. The 2nd room was originally a bedroom however was never used by her so was covered as a sitting room. The 3rd room was the smallest and the throne/chair here was actually a reclining one! On reclining and seeing above, she could see the paintings atop on the ceiling. Some of the fabrics definitely made me think they're from Banaras!!! 

In the ground floor there's a chapel and below the staircase were the toilet and bathroom. To much of my amusement, the toilet itself was painted with French Toile styled paintings!!! The Duke & Duchesses apartments are also in this floor incl the bed chamber. 
One of the room is called the portrait room where the miniature paintings of the entire family. In that era this was how they introduced their family tree to visitors & friends!!! This room also has some impeccable mother of pearl cabinets made in China!!!
There is one particular chair that was considered only as a piece of furniture and only much later did they figure out that the back of this furniture was painted. Perhaps the whole furniture was painted and over time has wiped off!
The wall of these rooms were filled with tapestries and the floors were filled with geometrical designs in wood and the ceilings with paintings.

Just outside, in an enoromous space of land are greenery. Behind the palace are 6 huge patches of grass. In that era, maintaining grass was an expensive affair and so much grass is a way of showing off the wealth! The Cherry Garden on the side is perhaps the most beautiful of them all! 
Over time the entire place was filled with wilderness before National Trust took this over. It was only with the drawings, plans and documents of the plantation did they know how was it with all its former glory and were able to retrieve it back to it.
Behind this was the wilderness or picnic area which was bordered with trees and has 16 sections of greenery. Within this place seating arrangement could be made. Beside this was the garden kitchen which existed since the inception. Infact this place has its own cow shed from where its diary came, beer cellar in the basement, ice house in the side etc! Elizabeth had used the greenery of this garden not only for food but also to make her own cosmetics & skincare products!!
Somehow I definitely felt this was more to do with the palatial building than the greenery. Just beside runs the Thames on which the school kids were practicing their competitive rowing! The river was filled to the brim that water overflowed on the road!!!

To Get There:
Nearest metro station: Richmond
Nearest buss stop: Ham Street
Entry Ticket: £10.40 (can be bought at the gate)
Details & entry timings can be found on their website.

P.S: I was invited by National Trust to experience their property at Ham House for review purposehowever the opinions are my own and this post does not to advertise the product/service.

Dedicated to Venkat

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

19 comments:

  1. The Ham House looks impressive but even more impressive is the interior. The engravings on the railings of the staircase are something very unique. The furnishings and the paintings adorning the rooms look very interesting we would love to explore them in person.

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  2. Wow! This makes me want to explore London! I love the miniature portraits! How interesting that they showed their family tree this way to visitors! Lineage was so important, wasn't it!

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  3. Wow this place looks gorgeous! It's the perfect place to train your photography skills... I especially liked the park with all the flowers. That's a real hidden gem you showed me today.

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  4. Really enjoying your articles on the various "houses" in England. It is a part of their heritage and tradition that often gets overlooked by many or the more popular places get visited like Blenheim Palace and the lesser known like Ham House are often skipped. The gardens are immaculate and love that chair with its back painted. The portrait room looks very homey. Thanks

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  5. Another English Heritage House I've yet to visit, though I've seen many photos! You're right about the library, it's huge and amazing! Funny about the mistake in the map, but in those days everything was different

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  6. Ham House is a perfect English styled lavish stay. Those widespread gardens, green grass lands which is so difficult to maintain are the plus point of this property. I am also amazed to see toilets are also painted in French styled paintings. You are exploring the hidden gems of London.

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  7. It's amazing how opulent these homes are! Posh folk in England really knew how to live it up. I think my favorite room in the house is the library. I would love to read some of those titles.

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  8. Your posts on England has been another form of enlightenment. Little do I know about the history of England so having to read it here(not from an oldean history teacher) fascinates me. I love the garden. If gardens equaled financial buoyancy, then I must admit,the garden speaks well of the Duke. Everything about this Ham house is unique.

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  9. Ahhhh I've always wanted to spend a few weeks exploring old homes in England! This one looks incredible! And I love the differences you noticed on the map with India. So crazy! If only those walls could talk!

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  10. Wow there's so much to London which I haven't heard of yet. This Ham house reveals such royalty and too as a gift, it makes it a superb place to see. I had no idea that maintaining grass or gardens was a way of showing off wealth in that era, this does say in itself so much about the place!! Those interiors are something I would like to see myself and yup the map of India too :D

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  11. Wow! The Ham house, a strange name for this kind of place it is gorgeous! So beautiful! Imagine having an afternoon tea on that garden with your friends like 100 years ago wearing a beautiful dressing watching the men play cricket.

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  12. I always love going to London because there are so many new things to see and do. I had no idea the Ham House existed, but it looks beautiful. It's fascinating to see a globe from a time before the world was properly mapped out.

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  13. Wow that library looks incredible! Was the ladder one of those rolling ones that’s attached to a track on top? And I wonder when that globe was actually from - the one that mapped Australia incorrectly.

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  14. This looks so grand. Despite the fact that it belongs to 17th century, it is still in a very good condition. I loved the outdoors too. It must have been an enriching experience to visit this place.

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  15. Looks grand. Thanks for bringing it to us...

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  16. The interiors would have got my eye. Right from the library, the Indian map, the painted furniture, chambers of the queen, tapestries, this is indeed a palatial villa.

    Manjulika

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  17. They should have named this place the house of a traveler :-) He has gathered mementos from everywhere - India, China ....I bet this was one interesting tour for you

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  18. Such a great place to explore! I loved the pictures, especially the one with the library. Is one day enough to explore this amazing place?

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  19. The interior design of the building and exterior architecture is so amazing! Love it so much!

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