On day #8 of our trip, we left our hotel bound for the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, a suburban town in southwest London, a tube journey of about 15 miles.
Below is a photo of the street as we exited the Richmond tube station. My original plan was to visit Kew Palace and Gardens, and have Afternoon Tea at Newens Original Maids of Honour Bakery/'Refreshment Room', but after reading the book about tea that I purchased at Twinings, I decided to go to Ham House first. A lady at the tourist information desk inside the tube station said it was a very scenic three mile walk along the River Thames to Ham House. It was overcast, but wasn't raining, so we decided to walk it.
Before reaching the riverside, we passed residential areas, and shopping areas.
~ A garden in one of the small courtyards ~
~ I couldn't help noticing all the TV antennas affixed to chimneys ~
Wish we would have had time to stop at this tea room. I loved Richmond, and if I ever return, I'll spend a day or two seeing all the sights there.
~ We finally reached Richmond's picturesque riverside ~
Not sure what the grand looking buildings are, and didn't have time to find out - hotels?
~ This side of the bridge ~
~ Other side of the bridge ~
~ Road sign to Ham House ~
~ Pedestrian walkway along the River Thames leading back to Ham House ~
New Orleans style paddle-steamer boat on the River Thames. How fun! Wish we would have had time to ride it.
Beautiful Marble Hill House across the river from the walkway.
We finally arrived at Ham House, which was given to the National Trust in 1948 by Sir Lionel Tollemache, 4th Baronet, and his son, Cecil.
My interest was piqued in Ham House while reading the book in my hotel room, Tea - A Very British Beverage, in which the author stated tea parties were held at Ham House during the 1600's long before Anna Maria [Stanhope] Russell, 7th Duchess of Bedford, made Afternoon Tea popular in the 1800's.
Ham House was built in 1610, and William Murray [a close childhood friend of Charles I] moved in with his family in 1626. His oldest daughter, Elizabeth Murray, Lady Dysart, received possession of the house in 1650 when her father was permanently exiled to France, and her mother died. It became her primary residence with her first husband, Sir Lionel Tollemache, 3rd Baronet.
Elizabeth Tollemache continued to secretly support her parents' position for the Royalist cause. When Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, he rewarded Elizabeth with a pension of £800 for life, and she retained the title to Ham House.
The busts in the niches on the house and forecourt wall are of Charles I and II, as well as Roman emperors. Pictured below are Charles I and II.
Lionel Tollemache died in 1669, and Elizabeth married John Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale in 1672. The Duke and Duchess spent considerable time [1672-1674] and money making extensive changes and expansions to the Jacobean mansion. A suite of rooms [The Queen's Bedchamber and Queen's Closet directly off the Long Gallery] were built with lavish decorations to accommodate Queen Consort, Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles II, when she visited. That's tea's historical connection to Ham House - it was Catherine of Braganza, the Portuguese trend-setting, tea-drinking Queen, who made tea a fashionable drink in Britain by introducing it at royal court, and among aristocratic circles such as the Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale.
It is documented that the Duchess of Lauderdale took tea with her friends in her Private Closet in the State Apartments, brewed in an 'Indian Furnace' [similar to a Russian samovar], decanted into a teapot, and then sipped from small porcelain bowls. Below is an Internet photo of Duchess Lauderdale's tea table in her Private Closet, since the room wasn't included in my tour.
The Duke of Lauderdale died in 1682, and the Duchess continued to live at Ham House until her death in 1698.
Entering Ham House for a tour. Above the arch [light blue in photo] are the coat of arms of the Duchess of Lauderdale and her first husband, Lionel Tollemache.
~ Fireplace in the Great Hall [entrance hall to the mansion] ~
Looking down into the Great Hall from the Round Gallery that the Duchess had built in 1690 by cutting a hole in the floor of the former Great Dining Room to create a more impressive and better lit Great Hall. The black and white marble floor is original to when the house was built in 1610. That's a pretty durable floor to last 405 years!
Apologies for the blurred photo, but it shows the Grand Staircase that William Murray had built in 1638 to create a grander entrance to his State Apartments on the floor above.
The North Drawing Room created in 1637. Guests would 'withdraw' here after they had eaten in the Great Dining Room next door. The tapestries depict the months of the year through farming activities. In the 1600's tapestries were the ultimate form of luxury room decoration. An ivory cabinet is against the wall in a photo below, and a harpsichord made in England is in the foreground.
~ Tour guide explaining different aspects of the room. ~
~ Door in the Drawing Room ~
The Long Gallery which is original to the house, and links to the new State Apartments built in the 1670's. Flash photography was not allowed, explaining the dark photo.
~ A painting of the Duchess of Lauderdale hangs in the Long Gallery ~
~ Exquisite Japanese lacquered cabinet on giltwood stand in the Long Gallery ~
~ Chinese blue and white porcelain jars on top of the Japanese cabinet ~
~ Another cabinet in the Long Gallery ~
It was a very abbreviated tour of the mansion including only the rooms I photographed. As we were exiting through the west passage way of the house, the tour guide pointed out the fire extinguishing system - rows of 'fire buckets' hung on each side of the wall which were once filled with water.
There was a below-the-stairs tour, but I didn't go on it [next time!].
Courtyard doorway to the still house or still room, although the Duchess would have had access to it from inside the house. She would have used it to prepare essential oils for her perfumes and soaps, and to make herbal medicines to treat her family and household.
South addition made by the Lauderdales, which is currently undergoing maintenance.
~ Reverse view towards the house ~
~ The dairy house is now used as a gift shop, and plants are sold outside. ~
The Orangery has been transformed into a café. Notice the wisteria on the wall.
We didn't eat at the Orangery because we had plans to have Afternoon Tea at the Maids of Honour Tea Room, but I did go inside long enough to take a picture.
~ The beautiful gardens ~
~ Bluebells ~
After seeing the gardens it was time to leave Ham House, and walk to the bus stop that would take us into Richmond to Kew Gardens and Newens Maids of Honour Bakery/'Refreshment Room' ... next post.
Ham House interior and exterior has been used in film and TV productions. The exterior was used as Kensington Palace in, The Young Victoria , and as a boarding school in, Never Let Me Go . I have the DVD of The Young Victoria, but I've got to see Never Let Me Go.