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Ham House, Surrey - Framed Picture - 11" x 14"


Ham House is a historic house with formal gardens set back 200 metres from the River Thames in Ham, south of Richmond in London.

It is claimed to be "unique in Europe as the most complete survival of 17th century fashion and power." The house itself is designated on the National Heritage List for England as a Grade I listed building.

Ham in the early 17th century was bestowed by James I on his son, Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales.

The house was built in 1610 by Sir Thomas Vavasour, Knight Marshal to James I. It originally comprised an H-plan layout consisting of nine bays and three storeys. The Thames-side location was ideal for Vavasour, allowing him to move between the courts at Richmond, London and Windsor. Prince Henry died in 1612, and the lands at Ham and Petersham passed to James' second son, Charles, several years prior to his coronation in 1625. After Vavasour's death in 1620, the house was granted to John Ramsay, 1st Earl of Holderness until his death in 1626.

In 1626, Ham House was leased to William Murray, whipping boy and close childhood friend of Charles I. Murray's initial lease was for 39 years and, in 1631, a further 14 years added but this did not give long term security of tenure for Murray's family.

Prior to the outbreak of the English Civil War, Murray shrewdly transferred ownership of the house to his wife for the duration of her life and thereafter to his four daughters, to be held in trust. The principal trustee was Lord Elgin who, as an important Scottish Presbyterian and Parliamentarian supporter, thus afforded the estate and family a degree of political protection.

During the Civil War, the house and estates were sequestrated, but persistent appeals by Catherine regained them in 1646 on payment of a £500 fine.
Thus Catherine skillfully defended ownership of the house throughout the Civil War and Commonwealth, and, despite Murray's close ties with the Royalist cause, the house remained in the family's possession.

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