Ham House, like most of the other palaces and stately homes that line the river Thames, belongs to a different time in history. It was built in 1610 for Sir Thomas Vavasour who was the Knight Marshal to James 1. When he died the house passed to a succession of owners, ending up with Elizabeth Countess of Dysart and her second husband John Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale, in order to reflect their status in Charles II’s Restoration court. It housed their apparently amazing collection of fine art, textiles and furniture, much of which remains in the house today. The house itself was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1948, where restoration work has been done on the garden to return it to its 17th century layout.
The garden itself is an outdoorsman’s dream – from the large open meadow to the Fountain Garden, the Plats (eight squares of lawn with pathways between them), cherry garden, wilderness (a maze of different flowers) and the Kitchen Garden’s. Although empty now in the middle of winter, the garden is generally the main supply for the Orangery’s kitchen.
Ham House Gardens would definitely be worth another visit in the summer, when the flowers and trees can portray it in its blooming splendour.
A mile walk along the Thames and back to Richmond Station and so another Saturday was well spent in London!