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Easter at Ham House

Last year we spent Easter in Dover with the boys while Elizabeth was in Tampa with her soccer team. This year, we're home, so Beth planned a quick afternoon visit to Ham House, which is just across the Thames from our house. I've run past Ham House countless times, yet never bothered to stop in. Since we're members of the National Trust, it's free for us, so stopping by any of the properties for just a couple hours is easy enough.

Being Easter, they arranged an egg hunt for the youngsters with the promise of a chocolate treat if you complete the trail. Game on for Henry!

A short bike ride and we approached the house.

I immediately told Beth that it reminded me of the style of Hampton Court Palace. The architecture and the brickwork look very similar. Ham House, built in 1610, is 100 years younger than Hampton Court. Given their proximity to each other, surely the brick could have come from the same place.
Originally built in 1610, Ham House is the creation of an enterprising courtier, William Murray, 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.
Once you head out back to the garden, you see a totally different style. Originally, Ham House was in an "H" shape and the back part of the "H" was connected in 1637. The brickwork used for this "new" addition reminded me of the same red brick used on the newest section of Hampton Court.

We had a nice coffee and tea in the orangery cafe, which is the oldest known orangery in the UK. Behind is another beautiful garden with the building itself covered in incredibly purple wisteria.

The house, which is now open for visitors, is full of portraits that are hundreds of years old. One of the staff explained all about how the house was given to William Murray, the beheading of King Charles I, and the amazing life of Elizabeth Murray, who upon marriage to William, because Duchess of Dysart and they had 11 children together. When William died, she remarried and became the Duchess of Lauderdale. How cool to have two Duchess titles!

From the stairs between the 1st and 2nd floors, you get a great view of the geometrically shaped garden on the side of the house. It should be a surprise to no one that I like nice straight lines.

The last bits of the house tour took us into their beer cellar for a small beer tasting. The recipe is still secret to this day, only know to the now producers in York.

Lastly, we got to see what is believed to be the oldest bathing room in the UK. When Elizabeth would bathe, it was a several hour process.

Another fun day out in London. There's so much to see and the kids are mostly willing to go along, so we're grateful for that. Beth and I both love the "experience" of living here and we hope one day the kids will appreciate it too.

Happy Easter!


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