Period Drama Location: Ham House

Another location in greater London for period drama lovers to visit is Ham House in Richmond, London, England.

Ham House

In Period Dramas

Ham House was used as the film location for:

  • Anna Karenina (2012)
  • Ballet Shoes (2007)
  • Cambridge Spies (2003)
  • To Kill a King (2003)
  • A Little Chaos (2014)
  • The Scandalous Lady W (2015)
  • BBC’s Sense & Sensibility (2008)
  • Taboo S1 (2017)
  • The Young Victoria (2009)
From the Top L-R: The Young Victoria, BBC's Sense & Sensibility, A Little Chaos, The Scandalous Lady W

From the Top L-R: The Young Victoria, BBC’s Sense & Sensibility, A Little Chaos, The Scandalous Lady W

The House

The exterior and interior of Ham House represented Kensington Palace in The Young Victoria. In this clip, you will recognise the staircase and the black-and-white checkered floors.

Ham House - staircase

Ham House - Main floor

The same checkered floors are recognisable in BBC’s Sense and Sensibility as the dining room of Norland Park.

Ham House - door

The exterior of Ham House was used as royal gardener, André Le Notre‘s house in A Little Chaos.

The Long Gallery was the setting for Count Andrei Vronsky’s apartments in Anna Karenina (when Anna visits Andrei in his apartments to take their romance further).

Long Gallery

Long Gallery

The Gardens

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In The Scandalous Lady W, Lady Seymour is seen in the garden and at the back of Ham House.

Back of Ham House, seen from the Wilderness.

Back of Ham House, seen from the Wilderness. To the left is a contemporary painting from c. 1675-9 attributed to Henry Danckerts and thought to show Elizabeth Murray with her second husband, the Duke of Lauderdale, walking in the Wilderness with Ham House in the background.

The Wilderness were used as the encampment in To Kill a King (I have not seen it) and as the garden in Ballet Shoes, when the Fossils and their guardians and friends enjoy a picnic outdoors.

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The red-bricked Ham House is “Europe’s most complete surviving example of 17th century fashion and power” (according to the National Trust). Very little has been altered in more than 300 years since the Murrays acquired the house in 1626 (the house was built in 1610). Once the whipping boy to the then Prince Charles (later King Charles I), William Murray was a close childhood friend to the prince and had many interests in common. In spite of the English Civil War, the royalist Murrays were able to keep their residence and its grounds. The house passed on to Murray’s eldest daughter, Elizabeth, who dedicated time and money to beautify her home. Although a royalist, Elizabeth was ‘friends’ with Oliver Cromwell, which acted as a ‘cover’ for her true loyalties. Her descendants from her first marriage (to Lionel Tollemache) lived in the House for the next three centuries. In 1948, Sir Lyonell Tollemache and his son donated the House and its grounds to the National Trust. The house has been open to the public since 1950.

In the middle of the wall, you'll see the older and original, more feminine wallpaper. The more masculine wallpaper replaced the colourful wallpaper thanks to one of Elizabeth's male descendants.

In the middle of the wall, you’ll see the older and original, more feminine wallpaper. The more masculine wallpaper replaced the colourful wallpaper thanks to one of Elizabeth’s male descendants.

Ham House & Gardens comprises Ham House, the Still House (where herbal medicines are prepared), Below Stairs (access from the side of the house and includes the Kitchens, Wine Cellar, and the Duchess’ Bathroom), Ice House, and Gardens/Wilderness.

Still House

Still House where herbs from the gardens were used for medicinal ointments and beauty salves.

The Duchess had this Bathroom built in 1672-5. Since bathing was slow to become popular at the time, it is the earliest surviving ‘bathroom’ in England. The bench you see in the photo is in lieu of a four poster bed where Elizabeth would rest following her bath (hot water poured over her). One descendant, the 9th Earl, added a bath and shower during the Victorian times.

The Duchess' Bathroom

The Duchess’ Bathroom

What I liked about Below Stairs is the information on some of the ‘downstairs’ staff, from the scullery maid to Elizabeth Murray’s lady-in-waiting. Visitors will learn their name, annual wages, lodgings, and how long they lived in Ham House.

Information on a scullery maid who worked at Ham House

Information on a scullery maid who worked at Ham House

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After my visit to Ham House, I decided to walk over to Richmond Park (it turned out to be a longer walk than I had anticipated) to see the free-roaming red and spotted deer. If you don’t plan on wandering around aimlessly, my tip is to go near the lake. It’s a good sign if you spot deer dung, as that means the deer are around. When I had just about given up, I was lucky enough to spot spotted fawns having an afternoon snooze (a few looked like they were sleep-eating). As I continued on my way out of the park, I spotted three adult red deer. Although it is possible to get up close to them, neither those around me nor I dared to get closer to the hungry deer.

Top: spotted fawns. Bottom: red deer

Top: spotted fawns. Bottom: red deer

For those of you who come from Vancouver, BC (and Vancouver, WA, if you’re a loyalist), if you’d like to visit your city’s namesake, Captain George Vancouver, he is buried at St Peter’s Church, Petersham, which is just a 17 minute walk from Ham House (and a 5-10 minute walk to Richmond Park). I completely forgot about visiting so I’ll have to go another time.


Ham House address: Ham St, Richmond-upon-Thames, Surrey TW10 7RS (Tube stop Richmond + buses 371 or 65)

Tickets: £10.40 (non-UK taxpayers) / £11.45 (Gift Aid) / Free for National Trust and National Art Pass holders

Hours: House (12-16:00), Gardens (10-17:00)