I really like visiting sites that are part of the National Trust because they manage some really stunning buildings, with gorgeous gardens and an amazing history. It’s great to visit this kind of places with your family. My girl’s love it because they have so much space to run around exploring especially in the gardens.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL TRUST
If you weren’t aware, the National Trust is a charitable organisation that works to protect and conserve Places of historic interest and natural beauty. They oversee the continued stewardship of Britain’s most unique and special places, their preservation allows future generations to appreciate and learn about the history and relevance of these cultural landmarks.
They have over 350 heritage properties in the UK. It is mostly funded by entrance fees, legacies, donations and selling merchandise in gift shops. But the most important income for the Trust is membership subscriptions.
CHOOSING A NATIONAL TRUST SITE TO VISIT
We checked the National Trust website for sites in or around London that wouldn’t be too far for us to visit. We wanted somewhere with a lot of outdoor space for my girls to run around to get rid of some energy, LOL!
They have so many great sites to choose from! This made picking one difficult to choose. It was also Nick’s birthday so we wanted to pick one that would really wow us as we spent a nice family out celebrating his birthday. We decided upon Ham House. It’s not too far from where we live and crucially they had a gorgeous garden for the girls to explore!
Front of the House
Back of the House
One of the things that made us choose Ham House was that it is simply an amazing looking building! I think it is stunning and I was sure my girls would be excited to visit.
Ham House is a unique 17th-century treasure house. It sits on the banks of the River Thames in Richmond. It is the creation of the tenacious Duchess of Lauderdale and her husband, the Duke, who together transformed Ham into one of the grandest Stuart houses in England.
VISITING THE HOUSE
When we arrived we were very excited by the size of the house. It looked very impressive from the outside and certainly as good as, if not better than, the photos we had seen online. We were very eager to see what it was like inside. We were actually lucky because there was no entrance fee on the day we visited as the building was part of Open House London. Held annually, it is a special weekend when you can enter many buildings in London for free, including some which may normally be closed to the public. It felt like our lucky day because, on top of this, parking is free too! 🙂
Once inside Ham House, immediately to your left, you can go up the stairs to the first floor. Wow, those stairs were gorgeous! I loved all the details.
My girls found the stairs very fascinating, especially Sienna who wanted to check the nice view you get from the top of the stairs. Bless her! She was having a great time!
Ham House is internationally recognised for its superb collection of paintings, furniture and textiles, largely acquired 400 years ago. Some of their unique objects include a rare Chinese teapot, said to have been used by the Duchess herself, and the exotic ivory cabinet.
Apparently, the house is reputed to be one of the most haunted in Britain. Some visitors have reported the ghostly aroma of the sweet Virginia pipe tobacco that the Duke smoked after meals in the dining room.
After visiting the inside of the house, we decided to go outside for a walk in the grounds. After a quick visit to the toilet (with kids this feels like you have to go every five minutes, LOL), we found the shop. I wish I didn’t find it as the girls immediately wanted something from there!
There have lots of cute items to buy and very interesting things! I bought some animal shaped chocolate lollies for the girls but I made sure they had eaten their lunch first! This way we were able to carry on our walk, LOL! I don’t know if you have the same problem, but I always end up buying something!
THE ORANGERY CAFE
Whilst walking around the site we found the cafe. It was getting late and the girls were, as always, hungry and asking for food so we decided to have something to eat.
The Orangery Cafe was lovely. I loved its location and how cute it looked. They were already preparing for Halloween with lots of pumpkins around! This will be a big attraction in a few weeks.
Apparently, at the back of this area – known as the Kitchen Garden, they use the venue for special occasions such as weddings, parties, etc! Coincidentally, when we were there, there was a lovely wedding reception taking place with a large marquee setup in the grounds! It was nice to see how this venue works for such occasions!
We were also lucky with the weather because the sun was out and we had a lovely view out from the cafe. The girls and I sat down while Nick was getting us something to eat. We spent about £30 eating there.
It was also great to find they offer free wifi which is always handy. I didn’t need to use it as my mobile signal was good but sometimes that is not the case and this could be a lifesaver!
The Orangery café serves light lunches and teas. The café is set in one of the first examples of an Orangery, however, it was not an ideal building for plants to grow as the windows are small and very little light could reach the orange and lemon trees.
We bought kids lunches which consist of a drink, a sandwich, a fruit, yoghurt or a pot of fruit. It was perfect for them. They both ate it all. We also got them a chocolate cake to share which went down pretty quickly, LOL!
Nick had a sandwich with a drink and I just got a coffee as I am on a diet so brought something with me to eat there. I did sneak a little taste of the chocolate cake though! I know, very bad, but I couldn’t resist!
The gardens are amazing! It is a very big space which, as I had hoped, is great for your kids to explore. My girls, as I mentioned before, they were really looking forward to visiting this part of the site.
It also includes a maze-like ‘Wilderness’, complete with summerhouses, and many beautiful spots perfect for a picnic. We really enjoyed going around this area! We would have spent longer there if it wouldn’t have been for the time as they were closing so we had to leave.
On my way out, I got into a horrendous panic because while we had been sitting outside of the shop for a small ice-cream I had left a bag that had my laptop inside it! OMG, when I realised I almost died. It had probably been an hour earlier so I was thinking that someone could have taken it home. But thankfully, one nice gentleman had picked it up and gave it to the shop so they would be able to keep it until the owner returned to claim it! So I was very lucky and I got my bag and laptop back! I was very impressed with the staff. They were brilliant when I told them this had happened and were very helpful!
PRICES, TIMES & NATIONAL TRUST MEMBERSHIP
The house opens from 12 to 4 pm but the cafe, shop and gardens open from 10 am to 5 pm. The entrance is £10.80 for adults, £5.40 for kids and £29.70 for a family ticket. If you are a National Trust member, entry is free. If you are looking to get some discounts to entrance fees or considering membership I would suggest visiting MyVoucherCodes who now have a dedicated page about the National Trust. I think it is worth checking there for a good deal!
We loved it! Going to a National Trust site is a great way to spend some quality time with your family! It’s very educational too as the girls can really learn a lot about history, culture, architecture and more! They had a blast and enjoyed visiting the house and running around the garden. The whole experience was fantastic and it was great we got to spend Nick’s birthday somewhere different. He enjoyed spending his birthday there!
Have you visited a National Trust site before? Are you a member? Have you been to Ham House before? If so, let me know your thoughts.
*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post with MyVoucherCodes.
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