Ham House, Richmond, is a National Trust owned 17th century property in London. Arriving at the house you find yourself on the bank of the River Thames, rowers gliding past. Here in the city of London is an oasis of calm. A fine stately house sitting in its own beautiful riverside grounds, with an avenue of trees leading you to its entrance.
Who would have thought you would find this in Zone 4 of London? It was a hot day when we visited and we were very glad we had skipped the tubes and the crowds of the central London attractions and headed to this tranquil spot instead.
The house has an intriguing history. It was given to a courtier of Charles I named William Murray. Murray had grown up with Charles and had been his whipping boy. Until visiting Ham House I had never given thought to what this phrase actually meant. Princes were above punishment so, to ensure good behaviour, if the young royal misbehaved his whipping boy would be punished. A prince and his whipping boy often formed a close relationship and so the prince was discouraged from bad behaviour by concern for his friend. I don’t know to what extent Charles I misbehaved or how much William Murray was whipped, but he was given this fine house as a gift for his troubles and marks the strength of the relationship between the prince and his whipping boy. The principle that royalty were not punished ran into the buffers when, as an adult, Charles I was executed – I wouldn’t want to be the whipping boy for that.
William and then his daughter Elizabeth set about furnishing the house and decorating it to be one of the greatest Stuart houses. The house passed down from Elizabeth for over 300 years until it became part of the National Trust in the 20th Century.
Now it’s a wonderful place to visit and a great place for a family day out. We expected to stay for a couple of hours and ended up staying all day.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO AT HAM HOUSE
The interior of the house is as grand and lavish as the exterior would have you expect. As well as the fine artworks and furniture accumulated by Murray and his daughter, you can visit below stairs and see the kitchens and servants’ quarters. This is always popular with me as my own grandfather was a butler in mansions and stately homes across England and I am always interested to see where the servants lived and worked. For me it brings a house to life to see both parts of it, the upstairs and below stairs and to contrast the lavishness of the owners’ way of life with the austerity of the servants’ world. An ice house, a herbal apothecary and a dairy complete the range of buildings.
Ham House has extensive lawns to the rear, popular with my children for running and doing cartwheels. It also has the most beautiful and fragrant lavender parterre garden, punctuated with conical box hedges.
In the gardens there are a number of very attractive little picnic houses and my girls really loved looking in these and playing hide and seek in them. Ham House is also famous for having the oldest orangery in Britain. The owners of Ham House certainly enjoyed finding ways to enjoy their home and gardens.
Children’s trails, Easter egg trails, crafts and even ghost tours are on offer, see here for further details.
My children love building dens and, lucky day, when we visited den building was one of the activities laid on.
For us no visit to a National Trust house is complete without a cup of tea and a scone and here you can sit outside in the pretty gardens and admire the views around you whilst you partake.
We spent the whole day at Ham House, enjoying the fine house, the beautiful gardens and the many things to do. On a sunny day it was a perfect way to enjoy one of London’s finest residences.
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Where Jo Goes London Reviews
Hotels 4* Pullman London St Pancras/ Hotels Budget Premier Inn Kensington
Things to do Greenwich/HMS Belfast/World’s Biggest Lego Store/Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre/Royal Albert Hall
Family friendly Restaurants Pizza Pilgrims/Snog Frozen Yoghurt
Days out from London Legoland Top Tips/Legoland Top 10 Rides/Oxford
Where Jo Goes National Trust Reviews
Lacock, Wiltshire-England’s Historic Harry Potter Village
Wilderhope Manor – Stay in an Elizabethan House/
Ilam Park & Dovedale Steps, Peak District
LINKING UP WITH
Ham House is great. I love the way it backs (fronts?) onto the Thames. That’s how we found it first, actually. We were ambling down the river and suddenly… mansion!
What a great surprise discovery!
I hadn’t realised that whipping boys and royals became friends, therefore I never quite understood the concept. Very interesting that the whipping boy was given this huge house. I hadn’t heard of Ham House before. Sorry I missed it when we were in London.
I’m guessing he must have either become a great friend or there was a lot of whipping for him to end up with this house!
I had no idea what a whipping boy was! Poor things although all turned out for the best if he got this beautiful riverside mansion! I live very close to Ham House but have only been once when some parts weren’t open and not warm enough to go outside. I think a revisit is in order! #citytripping
The whipping boy is such a grim idea! It worked out well in the long term in this case though, the house and gardens are beautiful and the kids were entertained exploring the garden for hours!
England has no shortage of beautiful houses! #CityTripping
I know! There are so many!
Great place, we are very like to have the NT. My fave is Cotehele in Devon so far. Wilbur. #citytripping
I haven’t been to Cotehele, thanks for the recommendation!
I lived right next to this for four years and never went – one for our return #citytripping
It’s a hidden gem I think. On a hot day it was so much nicer than heading on the tube into London.
I love National Trust and English Heritage properties:) I’ve been to a few 🙂 #citytripping
We’re lucky to have an NT property 10 mins from our house that we go to a lot. Ham House was a real find and made a change from heading into the centre of London. Thanks for reading.
This is actually really easy for me to get to, I’m surprised I haven’t been. It looks like a lovely place to visit, will definitely have to pop down on a weekend! #citytripping
We stayed a lot longer than we expected it was so lovely and the kids were having such fun exploring the grounds, playing hide and seek and doing the craft activities they had in the house. Thanks for reading.
Ham House is so lovely – we always seem to have blue skies when we go whether It’s midwinter or the middle of a mini heatwave. The gardens and grounds alone are wonderful, I think we only finally went inside on our most recent visit. The idea of the whipping boy is one of those fascinating quirks of history too. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping
It was a heatwave the day we were there, so much nicer than heading into central London.
What a beautiful place! We love visiting lavish estates and royal homes and this one is great especially that garden. I love that they have activities for kids. Wow, I guess that was the least Charles I could give his whipping boy. This relationship sounds so interesting I may need to read up more.
The whipping boy arrangement is really shocking to us today! I’d not really come across it till I visited Ham House. Thanks for reading.
I’ve never been to Ham House, you’ve inspired me to stop by one day! #citytripping
Perfect for little ones lots of grass to run about on!
We’re very lucky to have the National Trust preserve these great gems of history for us. We tend to get memberships on alternate years and I think it’s about time we renewed ours – I’d love to visit this place! #citytripping
That’s such an interesting story about the “whipping boy”. Looks like a lovely place for a day out. #CityTripping
Oooo… I love the garden! I imagine it would be even more beautiful when the lavender is in bloom! #CityTripping
Yes and it would smell heavenly!
I have been looking at visiting Ham House for a while now, we live in Surrey so it’s not difficult for us to get to. Your pictures have persuaded me. Thank you! Sarah
Poor whipping boy but what a house! I love National trust places and Ham House looks incredible. We’re taking the kids to London for the first time in a few weeks so I may have to put this on our list. #CountryKids
It makes a nice change from the central London activities.
I do love wandering around pretty gardens. I was living in Surrey so silly of me to never go and visit it. Lily just loves somewhere like this to run around. #countrykids
What a wonderful sounding visit, it is so lovely when you plan a short visit and it ends up using the whole day. I used to do a running route that led up to the gates of Ham House years ago, I never got beyond those iron gates so I’ve really enjoyed reading a little of what happens inside. It sound like in true National Trust style there are some great family activities to take part in and an interesting history to the house too.
Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids
Thanks for hosting. What a lovely area to go running!
What a gorgeous place to visit. We love the activities in National Trust places, perfect for children and families to be able to enjoy days out together #countrykidsfun
Ham House was on my London trip list but haven’t got there yet. Nice that there’s so many things for children to do too #countrykids
Now that is a beautiful house! I love the photos.
Popping over from #CountryKids 🙂
Drooling over how lovely the Architecture is. The place looks massive and yes it does look like an oasis in the middle of the city.
The topiary garden is really special. We spent so long enjoying the gardens we had to dash around the house in an hour!
I had no idea about the Whipping Boy – fascinating. This is somewhere else we’ve always wanted to visit anf never quite got to. Looks as if we need to remedy that, the gardens look lovely #CountryKids
The whipping boy is such a harsh concept for us to understand. I know he got Ham House in the end but it must have been a very hard life as a child! Thanks for reading.
Ham House is fairly near for us although we’ve never visited. So interesting to read about Charles I and his whipping boy – I’d never really thought about what that phrase meant either – it does make you wonder if there were a lot of whippings or just a very close friendship! Love the look of the parterre garden 🙂 #countrykids
Thank you for the history lesson and showing us an insight into one of the National Trust’s properties.#CountryKids
This looks like a great day out, the gardens look beautiful!
The gardens are so beautiful – love those conical hedges! I love finding places like this in London – always so surprising and such a pleasure. I’ve added this to my list and I’ll be whipping out my National Trust card there soon! Thanks for the idea. #countrykids