A Candlelit Christmas at Ham House

A Christmas tree at Ham House in Richmond

During December, join us for a magical Candlelit Christmas at Ham House in Richmond. See this 17th century treasure trove transformed with the glow of warm festive light, sparkling decorations and fresh winter greenery – there’s even a hand-crafted sugar banquet creating a feast for the senses.

Nestled on the banks of the River Thames, Ham House was the creation of the tenacious Duchess of Lauderdale and her husband the Duke – together they transformed Ham into one of the grandest Stuart houses in England.

Now, we’re turning the clock back over 400 years to take some of the season’s best loved traditions from that time and bring them to life.

The staircase at Ham House adorned with greenery for Christmas
Staircase at Ham House adorned with foliage for Christmas
The staircase at Ham House adorned with greenery for Christmas

Finery and festive touches around every corner

Gather together and soak up the atmosphere as the candle light guides you through each ornately decorated room in turn. In each you’ll find astonishingly well-preserved wall hangings, paintings and furniture with deep rich reds and browns, picked out with gold.

Glide up the Great Staircase with its fine balustrade panels carved with trophies of arms. Then linger in The Round Gallery for a stunning view of the Great Hall, here the Duke and Duchess’s esteemed guests would meet and socialise before an evening of food and entertainment.

Adding to the opulent beauty is an abundance of natural green wreaths, swags and garlands draped over banisters, mantlepieces and windowsills. Look out too for sparkling Christmas trees, bursting with presents beneath.

" Did you know? Ham House was designed to be seen by candlelight, with a walk through revealing something more beautiful and precious step by step. "
- Ham House and Garden, Richmond
A sumptuous sugar banquet display at Ham House
Sugar banquet display of food at Ham House in Richmond
A sumptuous sugar banquet display at Ham House

Sugar banquet gives a unique taste of history

Take a look in the marble dining room where carved oak panelling, a parquetry floor and gilt leather on the walls would have provided the perfect stage for the delicate sugar banquets that were popular in Ham House’s heyday as a display of wealth and elegance.

This Christmas, Ham’s dedicated volunteers have followed historic recipes to combine sugar, spices and candid fruits to painstakingly create a vast 17th century-style sugar banquet for you to see in the basement kitchen. With everything from sugar playing cards to pistachio hedgehogs carefully carved and served on sugar dishes, it’s a feast for all the senses.

See Christmas trees filled with lights
A Christmas tree at Ham House in Richmond
See Christmas trees filled with lights

More to explore outdoors

The magic continues in Ham House’s formal gardens, where trees and hedges twinkle with lights to add to the festive atmosphere. Recharge your batteries with a winter walk in the 12-acre garden, there are plenty of quiet spots – or if you’re here with the whole family the kids can let of steam while you take in the views.

Then enjoy a well-earned bite to eat in our Orangery Café; from our warming turkey and mustard casserole, to fresh gingerbread muffins, we have plenty on offer to round off the day.

Ham House and Garden is open throughout December and January, for details please check the homepage. Decorations will stay up until 5 January. We recommend the weekdays before the holiday as some of the quietest moments, especially towards the start and end of the day.

Saving our collection from light damage is a vital part of our conservation work, so to keep the collection safe the candles will be battery operated – though you might need to take a second look to realise that!