For the first time in a while I managed to get a weekend that was dry and warm, but not excessively hot and humid! To me this is a rarity so I took the opportunity and joined a little social group in their trip to the lovely Ham House.
Ham House is a beautiful red brick building just east of Richmond in Surrey, set near the Thames. It was built in the early 1600's and was owned by Elizabeth Maitland, the countess of Dysart. It stayed in the line of the Earls of Dysart until it was given to the National Trust in 1948. Oh, and it's apparantly haunted but luckily I didn't see any ghosts while I was there.
Obviously, this is the front of Ham House. There's a walk up a paved road to get to the main gates where you pay to go in (or wave your National Trust membership card and get in for free like I did). They don't have a ticket office but they do have a National Trust branded van, where they can also sign up new members if you want to join! Once you get through the gate you're free to wander as you wish, you can go into the house, round the gardens or to the cafe which is in the old orangery. The group I was with decided to go into the house first before going on a short garden tour.
Yes that's me (spot the iPod earphone wire XD) outside the very large front door! This led into the main hall, a lovely big room with a nice tiled floor and various pictures on the walls. There isn't a guided tour, like most NT properties nowadays you just wander as you wish, but we were given a nice mini guidebook which had a suggested route for us to take and gave a bit of information about each room. We got to see some rooms on the first floor and the basement before we returned to the great hall and went back outside.
The main staircase was decorated with beautiful wooden carvings such as this one of a cannon! Unfortunately you can't take photos using a flash and my camera is rubbish in the dark so that's the best picture of several that I took in the place. But the inside of the house really is lovely, my favourite room was the library which was filled with vintage books! The basement was interesting too, although I must say that I think my time at Wimpole Hall spoiled me as some of the basement was on the bare side when compared to that at Wimpole. It was still nice to see though, the best part of these houses is seeing how both sides of the household lived.
And finally we went on a short garden tour. There was a nice "cherry tree orchard", which was missing it's cherry trees because they were removed long before the National Trust took over. At the back of the house were some lovely lawns that then led down to the "wilderness", which is a semi-cultivated space with lots of hedges and tucked away corners for picnics. And there was also a statue of Hermes! Of course, the classical theme is strong in these kinds of places.
Once we were done with our garden tour we had tea and cakes from the cafe and sat outside near the kitchen garden and chatted. It was a really lovely day out, if you're a National Trust member and have to visit Ham House then I thoroughly recommend it!
My next weekend is going to be just as eventful, not only am I working on the Saturday but on the Sunday I'm going to be doing a sponsored walk for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. This is a charity really close to my heart and I've set myself a target of raising £200, you can read more about it at my fundraising page!
Have a lovely week everyone!