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IN THE NEWS
TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
A 17th-century superbly preserved and haunted royal house.
Location: Ham Street, Ham, Richmond-upon-Thames, TW10 7RS
Description: Ham House is unique in Europe as the most complete survival of 17th-century fashion and power. One of a series of palaces and grand houses along the banks of the Thames, it was built in 1610 and enlarged in the 1670s, when it was at the heart of Restoration court life and intrigue.
It was then occupied by the same family until 1948. The formal garden is significant for its survival within the area known to be the cradle of the English Landscape Movement.
The outbuildings include an orangery, ice house, still house and dairy with cast iron 'cows legs' supporting marble slabs.
Ham House was built in 1610 for Sir Thomas Vavasour, Knight Marshal to James I.
On Sir Thomas's death in 1620, the house passed briefly to the Earl of Holdernesse, before becoming the home of William Murray in 1626.
Murray had been the 'whipping boy' for the future Charles I. He took punishment on behalf of the young prince, and formed a close bond with him, growing up to share his taste in art and architecture.
The earliest written account of a haunting at Ham is from Augustus Hare (1834-1903) who visited in 1879, and in The Story of my Life (1900) noted: There is a ghost at Ham. The old butler there had a little girl, she was then six years old. In the small hours of the morning, when dawn was making things clear, the child, waking up, saw a little old woman scratching with her finger against the wall close to the fireplace. She was not at all frightened at first but sat up to look at her. The noise she made in doing this caused the old woman to look round, and she came to the foot of the bed and, grasping the rail, stared at the child long and fixedly. So horrible was her stare, that the child was terrified and screamed and hid her face. People ran in and the child told what she had seen. The wall was examined where she had seen the figure scratching, and concealed in it were papers which proved that in that room, Elizabeth had murdered her first husband to marry the Duke of Lauderdale.