Posts Tagged ‘medicines’

Cool facts about Ham House

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People who have dined there include the likes of Charles II and Oliver Cromwell.

There was once a brewery on site as beer was drunk instead of water, because the water was so dirty.

The still house was once really active in making medicines and using herbs and flowers grown in the gardens.

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Anna Karenina and Never Let Me Go were both filmed there.

The table in the kitchen was built in situ, 403 years ago using wood from an elm tree on the estate. It has been in use that entire time and the drawers still slide perfectly and table top is still workable as a proper worksurface. In fact, that’s where I work when I go there.

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The raised wooden section you can see underneath the table was put in so that the young page boys or scullery maids, who’s job it was to stay in the kitchen all night and keep the fire alive, had somewhere to sleep that was off the flagstone floor so a bit warmer. They would take it in turns to stoke the fire or have a little sleep.

It was still inhabited by the family of Dysart up until 1948 when the National Trust took over. At this time, they also still had servants.

They drank more champagne than wine in Ham House in 1660. There are still copies of inventories and orders that were made which show that they ordered about two thirds the amount of wine as they did champagne. Was champagne cheaper in those days?

Washing wasn’t a regular activity in those days. That’s why the bathroom that the Duchess of Lauderdale had put in in the late 1660s was such a revelation. In fact, it was the first bathroom in the country! Once a month she would go and sit on a stool in a tub and have water poured over her.

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Then she lay on a bed nearby and had perfumes (vinegars infused with herbs, eg rosemary) applied to her skin. She would wrap a blanket around her and wait for an hour for the perfume to soak in. Then another quick rinse and all done!

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They have a teapot that is three hundred and fifty years old.

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There are a whole series of hidden corridors and passageways that were used by the servants to get around without getting in anyone’s way. I use some of these passages to get about the house when doing my volunteering.

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(Can you see the hidden doorway, to the left of the chair?)

I’m going on a tour of the house and gardens next Thursday so will report back with more cool facts then.