We all know what Monday’s are like. We spend half of Sunday dreading the impending doom and gloom of the working week about to begin again. But when you have friends that are teachers, and they happen to be on school holidays, and you yourself are a freelancer, and that teacher friend says ‘Hey wanna go to Ham House on Monday?’, you spend a moment weighing up work versus fun, and then you decide to work extra hard on Tuesday and accept the invitation. Or at least that’s what I did this past Monday!
We arrived at Ham House on a slighty overcast day, but it all added to the moodiness of this historic house, situated beside the River Thames, just south of Richmond in London. We walked through the huge gates, decided to pay the entry free that included the lower ground servants quarters and the gardens, and set off towards the house. (House? More like really giant palace/mansion!).
Just to sound like I’m some amazing history buff (I’m not. I totally got this info from the Ham House website!), this 17th-century house is the creation of the Duchess of Lauderdale and her husband, the Duke, who together transformed Ham into one of the grandest Stuart houses in England. I for one would like to know how they got a mortgage for the place!!
The details and architecture were amazing, and I now feel that my flat could really benefit from a few busts of various people’s heads attached to the walls just to zhuzh (Juuj? Jooj? Tszuj? Whatever) it up.
Through the garden wall, we then had a nosey around the servants quarters, which involved beer sampling. Yup.
Around the back of the house, I realised I could really get used to living in a place like this, and I think I look right at home. The only thing is, I’d be terrified to sleep in that place on my own at night. But then again, there’s plenty of bedrooms so I could just rent them out on Air BnB.
The gardens are so extensive you could get some serious marathon training going on there. However we decided to be much lazier and stroll.
It didn’t matter which way you looked, everything was picturesque, and so unbelievably serene, which is a word that you’d rarely describe somewhere in London.
As we wandered further into the gardens, it reminded me of one of my all-time favourite childhood books turned movie, The Secret Garden. Although I remember very little detail about the actual story, I have vivid memories of wishing I too could be like Mary, the little girl who discovers the key to the secret garden. And I might be 37 years old, but as they say, good things take time, and I think I finally found my version of this secret garden.
We snapped away at pretty much everything!
We even found trees that looked like they might come alive after dark. I mean, is it just us, or does this tree have eyes, a really good head of green hair, and appears to be saying ‘Ooooh!’. Please tell me you can see what I’m seeing. I don’t want to worry about myself more than I already do!
The cheeky little squirrels were bouncing around the place. And I know they’re rodents, but they are the cutest damn rodents you ever will see.
Back through the garden wall, we made tracks towards the cafe for tea, cake, and a lot of afternoon gossip.
We had a nosey around the gift shop, which sells really cute things i.e. no tacky souvenir tat, and then made our way back out to the front of the house for a few more snaps.
As we walked down the driveway, we were surrounded by a sea of orange leaves, and although I know winter is on its way, and I will moan like hell, I can’t help but love the beauty of Autumn. It was the perfect time of year to visit my ‘future house’.
Ham House is open seven days a week, and you can check here for daily opening times and information.