National Trust Ham House

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Built in 1610 Ham House is unique in Europe as the most complete survival of 17th-century fashion and power.

Ham House, situated beside the River Thames in Ham, just to the south of Richmond, in the United Kingdom, is claimed by its present owners, the National Trust, to be “unique in Europe as the most complete survival of 17th century fashion and power”.

It was built in 1610 for Sir Thomas Vavasour, Knight Marshal to James I and in 1626 passed into the hands of William Murray the “whipping boy” for the future Charles I. He took the punishment on behalf of the young prince, and formed a close bond with him, growing up to share his taste in art and architecture. Between 1637 and 1639, Murray remodelled the interior of Ham. He created the Great Staircase and the suite of sumptuous rooms on the first floor: the Great Dinning Room (now the Hall Gallery), the North Drawing Room, and the Long Gallery with its adjoining picture closet. When the Civil War broke out in 1642, Murray naturally joined the Royalist cause, and was created the 1st Earl of Dysart for his loyalty. He died in Edinburgh in 1655.

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