Get the best from your visit to Ham House

Visitors to Ham House have a chance to experience a great house and garden. It's worth familiarising yourself with some of what's on offer if you want to make the most of your visit. 

Origins of the house

The origins of the house and garden

Ham – a gift from the king

Originally built in 1610, Ham House is the creation of an enterprising courtier, William Murray (below), and his tenacious daughter Elizabeth. As a boy, William was educated with the young Charles I, taking the role of his whipping boy.

Remaining friends as adults, they shared a taste for the latest fashions in architecture, art and interior decoration. William was given the lease of Ham House and its estate as a gift from the King in 1626.

A man with stylish taste

From 1637-9 William embarked on a series of lavish decorative alterations to the house.

These changes cemented his status as a man with style, a close friend to the king and an important member of his court.

Civil war

From 1637-9 William embarked on a series of lavish decorative alterations to the house. These changes cemented his status as a man with style, a close friend to the king and an important member of his court.

Saved by a cunning family

By her cunning, William's eldest daughter Elizabeth was able to steer Ham through Cromwell's rule by establishing good relations with the Protector. All the while she sent secret Royalist messages to the prince in exile on the continent.

When Charles II was restored to power in 1660, Ham once again became a place for entertaining and extravagance. This time it was under the ownership of Elizabeth.

A powerful partnership

In 1672, aged 46, Elizabeth married for the second time, this time to the affluent Duke of Lauderdale. He was a key member of King Charles' inner cabinet. Sharing a love of power and decadence, together they made a dynamic Restoration court couple. They transformed Ham House into one of the grandest Stuart houses in England.

 

When was Ham House built?

  • 1610
  • 1850
  • 1579
  • 1725

The ghost of the Duchess of Lauderdale

An investigation into the haunting of Ham House

Watch the video, and answer the question on the next page. 

What would you expect to smell if the stories about the haunting are true?

What's in the garden?

Take a look at the different areas in the garden, and find what's growing in them.

What would you expect to find in different parts of the garden?

Parsnips would be found in the 

Lavender would be found in the  

Hedges would be found in the 

What else you can see near Ham House

Within easy reach of Ham House

Match the person with the place

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    George Vancouver