A Real Treat to visit, A Stately Home with Step Free Access
This review is especially helpful for those who have or use the following: Walking Aid, Mobility Scooter
Ham House is a stately home located on the banks of the River Thames, near Richmond with step free access. The house and gardens are managed by the National Trust and are open to the public. There is also a café and shop.
Transport & Parking
There is accessible parking on site. By public transport the nearest tube and railway station is Richmond and then it is a bus journey. Two buses stop nearby. The 371 stops outside Richmond Station and the alighting point is Ham Street. It is then 1/2 mile walk. While the area was relatively free traffic when we went there is a short part of the route where there is no pavement and you have to walk in the road. Although the route is flat I personally found it hard going walking with a crutch, and there was no were to sit and rest until we arrived at the entrance to the house. I mentioned this to the staff when we arrived and said that I felt that the website should point this out as it could be difficult for people with disabilities or people with pushchairs and small children. The other bus is the 65, which again stops outside Richmond Station but this follows a slightly different route and it's 3/4 of a mile to the Ham House from the bus stop. When we were leaving I asked the staff about this route but it involves walking on grassland. When asked the staff phoned a local cab firm and ordered us a taxi for the return journey. The taxi took about 10 - 15 minutes to arrive and it drove up to Ham House entrance gate and took us to Richmond Station. The fare was about £9.50 (April 2018).
Once we'd arrived I couldn't fault the access arrangements. The National Trust only own the land from the main gates in front of the house and it's here that you by your tickets. Although there is a counter at standing height the staff were standing by the path to welcome you. The National Trust have a mobility scooter and manual wheelchairs, which can be booked in advanced. I had not booked in advanced but was very tired after the walk from the bus stop and they offered me the mobility scooter. I hadn't used one before and they gave me a quick lesson on how to use it. The scooter had handle bars, switches to go backwards or forwards and different speed settings. We were given a step free map and told we just had to take the keys out of the scooter when we parked up anywhere. I don't drive and I found it quite easy to use and soon got the hang of it. The step free route to the house means taking a short detour. Directly in front of the house are some steps and there is a permanent metal ramp for wheelchairs and prams to use. The ramp is quite narrow so you have to carefully line up your wheelchair and being on it reminded me of a less scary version of being on a rollercoaster. The house dates back to the early 1600s and is suitable for manual wheelchairs. There are a couple of steps at the front door and into some of the rooms, but there are ramps available. The 9th Earl was disabled, whose wheelchair is on display on the ground floor, had a lift installed. It's a small lift, so it can only accommodate a manual wheelchair. It has two sets of closing doors and a member of staff accompanies you. The brilliant thing that it goes to all the floors, so as well as the ground and first floor where the family lived it also goes to the basement where the cellars and the kitchen was, so you can get to see everything, I think with the exception of one of the rooms in the basement. There are step free routes to enable you to see all the garden. This includes the kitchen garden, Cherry Garden and rear garden. the paths are either paving stones, cobbles or gravel paths. At the back of the rear garden is a wilderness area which is grassed over. There are step free paths to the café, which is then accessed by a temporary ramp and there is a shop which is also step free The website says that guide dogs are welcome, there is a Sensory list and handling collection in the house and Induction loop in the house, café and shop.
There are no toilets in the house. There is a accessible toilet near the shop in the garden. The toilet is spacious and has grab rails. There is an emergency alarm.
The staff were brilliant and extremely helpful. They were very helpful when we arrived and went and got me a mobility scooter. When we got to the house a member of staff was bleeped whenever we needed the lift and they were very patient. When we were leaving and we returned the mobility scooter they phoned for a taxi for us.
Anything else you wish to tell us?
The house is in a lovely location on the river bank of the Thames, in the small village of Ham. It's a beautiful historic house, not too large to be overwhelming but still plenty to see. There is a Long Gallery on the first floor with paintings with smaller rooms hidden off it. The rooms are beautifully decorated and furnished. In the basement you can visit the kitchens and on the day we visited volunteers were baking caraway biscuits which we could taste. The gardens are delightful and well maintained. The café serves light lunches, delicious cakes and hot and cold drinks. It's well worth visiting.