One of a series of grand houses alongside the River Thames, Ham House and Garden is an unusually complete survivor of the 17th century.
Rich in history and atmosphere, Ham was largely the vision of Elizabeth Murray, the Duchess of Lauderdale (later the Countess of Dysart), who played an important role in the machinations of the English Civil War and later the restoration of the monarchy.
The house is one of the most haunted in Britain; it was subject to a year long investigation by the Ghost Club which recorded a number of phenomena that remain 'unexplained'. Visitors attest to sightings of the Duchess of Lauderdale and her dog, which is reported to have been seen running down the corridors – despite the fact no dogs are allowed in the building. It is also said that the aroma of the sweet Virginia pipe tobacco that the Duke smoked after meals can be detected in the dining room.
Outdoors the photogenic Cherry Garden is a particular highlight, while the walnut and chestnut trees in the outer courtyard have become roosting sites for an exotic flock of green parakeets.
The permanent collection includes furniture, textiles and paintings surviving from Elizabeth Murray's day. There is also a rare Chinese teapot, said to have been used by the Duchess herself.