Ham House

London, United Kingdom

Ham House


Ham House is a 17th-century house set in formal gardens on the bank of the River Thames in Ham, south of Richmond in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. The original house was completed by 1610 by Thomas Vavasour, an Elizabethan courtier and Knight Marshal to James I, but was later leased to William Murray, a courtier and close friend to Charles I. The estate came to prominence during the 1670s as the home of Elizabeth (Murray) Maitland, Duchess of Lauderdale and Countess of Dysart and her second husband John Maitland, Duke of Lauderdale. At that time, the house was expanded and furnished to the highest standards of courtly taste for the comfort of the Lauderdales' eminent guests. The Lauderdales decorated the house lavishly with artwork, tapestries and furniture from around the world and the formal gardens also reflected the status of the owners and their visitors.

After the Duchess's death, the property passed through the line of her descendants, some of whom made large alterations, such as Lionel Tollemache, 4th Earl of Dysart, who commissioned major repairs in the 1730s. For the most part, the generations of owners sought to preserve the house and collection to a high standard. In 1948, the house was donated to the National Trust by Sir Lyonel Tollemache and his son Major (Cecil) Lyonel Tollemache. During the second half of the 20th century, the house and gardens were opened to the public, as well as being restored and researched extensively.

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