Blog Ham London Wikipedia

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Area of Richmond in London, England

Human settlement in England

Ham is a suburban[2] district in Richmond, south-west London. It has meadows adjoining the River Thames where the Thames Path National Trail also runs. Most of Ham is in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and, chiefly, within the ward of Ham, Petersham and Richmond Riverside; the rest is in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames. The district has modest convenience shops and amenities, including a petrol station and several pubs, but its commerce is subsidiary to the nearby regional-level economic centre of Kingston upon Thames.


Ham is centred 9.25 miles (14.89 km) south-west of the centre of London. Together with Petersham, Ham lies east of the bend in the river almost surrounding it on three sides, 1 mile (1.6 km) south of Richmond and 2 miles (3.2 km) north of Kingston upon Thames. Its elevation mostly ranges between 6m and 12m OD but reaches 20m in the foothill side-streets leading to Richmond Park. It has the Thames Path National Trail and is connected to Teddington by a large Lock Footbridge at Teddington Lock. During the summer months a pedestrian ferry, Hammerton’s Ferry, links it to Marble Hill House, Twickenham.

The neighbouring land is semi-rural Petersham, Richmond Park, and the town of Kingston. On the opposite side of the river is Teddington and Twickenham (including Strawberry Hill).[3]

Ham is bounded on the west, along the bank of the River Thames, by ancient communal river meadows forming a Local Nature Reserve called Ham Lands.[4] Part of this former pasture land was used for gravel extraction. The last remnant of these gravel pits now forms an artificial lake, connected to the river by a lock. In this area is the Thames Young Mariners 10 acres (0.04 km2) site, operated as a water activity centre by Surrey County Council.[5] The area along the riverside is preserved as a public amenity and nature reserve.

Mostly on low-lying river terrace, Ham today is bounded to the east by Richmond Park, where the land rises at the escarpment of the Richmond and Kingston hills. Small streams that drain this higher ground flow into a watercourse that flows south–north along the foot of the hill, known as Latchmere Stream[6] to the south and Sudbrook to the north. Now subterranean for most of its course, it emerges in Ham Common, near Ham Gate and flows briefly through Richmond Park and exits into Sudbrook Park Golf Course, returning underground before discharging into the Thames at Petersham.[7]


Ham lies within the London Basin and its London clay bedrock. The low-lying flood plains to the west consist of fluvial gravels, sands and clay. To the east, within Richmond Park, a more erosion-resistant fluvio-glacial deposit of gravels laid down in the interglacial period between 240,000 and 400,000 years ago forms the escarpment ridge that runs north–south between the Richmond and Kingston hills.[8][9]


The name derives from the Old English word Hamme meaning “place in the bend of a river”.[10]


A few finds of Romano-British pottery from the late Iron Age, mid 1st and early 2nd centuries AD show that the area remained inhabited to some extent, though the closest indications of modest Roman settlements are further south in the Canbury area of North Kingston.[12]

The first early Saxon settlement found in the Greater London area was a pit-house, or Grubenhaus, excavated at Ham in the early 1950s. Along with pottery finds dated to the 5th century AD, this suggests the area was amongst the first colonised by Saxon settlers.[12][14]


Tollemache Almshouses, Ham Street, erected in memory of Algernon Gray Tollemache in 1892 by his wife

Ham does not appear in Domesday Book of 1086, the nearest entries being Petersham to the north and Coombe to the south-east, all, including the area of Ham, within the hundred of the town of Kingston to the south.[15]

The earliest known written record of Ham as a separate village dates from the 12th century when Hamma was included in the royal demesne as a member of Kingston, contributing 43s. 4d. in 1168 towards the marriage of Matilda, the eldest daughter of Henry II.[note 1][19]

Between the royal courts at Richmond and Hampton Court, Ham’s predominantly agricultural area developed from the beginning of the 17th century, with the construction of Ham House in 1610, the best-preserved survivor of the period. The related history of the Earls of Dysart dominated the development of Ham and Petersham for the following four centuries.

When the park was enclosed by Charles I in 1637, Ham parish lost the use of most of the affected land, over 800 acres (3.2 km2) stretching towards Robin Hood Gate and Kingston Hill, almost half of which was common land. In return for this, a deed was struck which has effectively protected most of the remaining common land, Ham Common, to the present day. The enclosed land, whilst lost to agriculture, remained within Ham’s administrative boundaries.

The whole area was referred to as Ham cum Hatch, or Ham with Hatch, until late Victorian times.[20] The enclosure of Richmond Park disrupted the former common land link between the settlements near the present Upper Ham Road and an ancient small settlement near the park’s Robin Hood Gate and A3, London road. Local historian, Evelyn Pritchard, assumed that the Robin Hood lands settlement was the location of Hatch, but more detailed examination of Petersham, Ham and Canbury manorial land records by John Cloake provides evidence that Hatch was a hamlet centred around the north-east area of Ham Common, whilst Ham itself lay to the west and north-west of the present common, on the Ham Street approach to the Thames.[21]

Between 1838 and 1848, Ham Common was the site of a Utopian spiritual community and free school called Alcott House (or the “Ham Common Concordium”), founded by educational reformer and “sacred socialist” James Pierrepont Greaves and his followers. Hesba Stretton (real name Sarah Smith), the evangelical children’s writer, retired to Ivycroft, Ham Common in 1892 and died there in 1912.[22]

There is a memorial bench outside the Sainsbury’s store (formerly Barclays Bank) at Ham Parade to commemorate Angela Woolliscroft, who was murdered in 1976 during a bank robbery.


Ham Village sign

Since 1965 Ham has been mostly in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.[23] The rest is in London Borough of Kingston upon Thames. The boundaries between these two boroughs have changed slightly since they were first established.

As the system of hundreds and manors declined, Ham from 1786 was administered by a local “vestry”, but as Ham lacked a church of its own until 1832 (and a true vestry until it was enlarged in 1890), it met in the New Inn.[24]

The Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 established a Board of Guardians, comprising 21 elected guardians for Kingston and its surrounding parishes. Ham always had one or two representatives, but sent very few of its poor to the workhouse, mainly assisting them locally in almshouses.[25]
Ham Common Local Government District was formed under the Local Government Act 1858 and was governed by a local board of eight members.[26] However, the vestry system continued in practice until the formation of a local government board in 1871.[27] The Local Government Act 1894 reconstituted the area as Ham Urban District, with an elected urban district council of ten members replacing the local board. It consisted of the civil parish of Ham with Hatch, which was renamed “Ham” in 1897.[28]

The urban district was abolished in 1933, when a county review order included it in an enlarged Municipal Borough of Richmond.[29] The main impact on Ham was that the northern area was linked with Petersham to create a Sudbrook ward, whilst the boundary with Kingston was moved further north to more or less its present limit with Ham “losing” the factories and surrounding land and housing. This substantial boundary change makes meaningful demographic analysis very difficult. The ward itself is now Ham, Petersham and Richmond Riverside. This contains the largest proportion of Richmond Park and of all six main wards which adjoin it.[30]



Ham was an agricultural community for centuries, with meadow and pasture land mostly along the river, and common grazing. The tithe map of 1842 showed a total area of 1,920 acres (780 ha), but when adjusted for the land in Richmond Park, 449 acres (182 ha) were arable, 290 acres (120 ha) meadow or pasture, 216 acres (87 ha) was common land, and only 1 acre (0.40 ha) woodland. The crops were mainly wheat, barley and oats. with some flax, potatoes, turnips and mangel wurzels. Livestock included cows, sheep, pigs, goats, ducks and chickens as well as horses and donkeys – many of which grazed the common land.[31] Ham had three farms at the time, all on land owned by the Earl of Dysart. Unusually, these remained very little enclosed and the open field system survived in use until the late 19th century.[32] Improvement in transport and the growth of London led to a shift from general mixed agriculture to market gardening by the early 20th century.[33] Ultimately, the same growth fuelled demand for housing land, and this factor along with the greater profitability of gravel extraction on land that could not be used for housing, meant that agriculture in Ham had ceased by the mid-1950s.[34]

Thames Young Mariners dock and lock
Ham Riverside Lands


Sopwith Dolphin
Trojan Utility Car

The remaining Ham Factory lease was sold to Leyland Motors, which initially used it to recondition ex-War Department lorries for civilian use. It was then used to produce under licence the Trojan Utility Car between 1922 and 1928.[38] During the 1930s, the factory produced Leyland Cub trucks. World War II shifted production to military vehicles, fire engines, other equipment and munitions. After the war the site produced the chassis for Leyland’s trolleybus.[39]

Hawker Hunter

In 1948 the site was sold back to Hawker Aircraft Ltd and it became the main base for Kingston’s aviation industry. The Hawker Hunter was produced there in large numbers, driven by cold war demand. The profits allowed the site to be redeveloped as Hawker’s UK headquarters and the factory gained an imposing frontage by 1958 in a building that closely linked design and production.[37] The Ham factory played an integral part in the development of the Hawker Kestrel and Hawker Harrier planes. Following the nationalisation of the aircraft industry in 1977. British Aerospace continued to build Harriers and missile kits at the site. Following privatisation in 1985, the site’s closure was announced in 1991. It was demolished in 1993 and replaced by further housing development.[39]

Paint and varnish[edit]

Apart from one plant nursery, local community, retail and small scale offices, Ham today is predominately a commuter residential area dependent on employment outside the immediate area.


Ham Pond, Ham Common

The main feature in Ham is Ham Common which has a cricket pitch, a pond and a woodland.

A straight tree-lined path leads from Ham Common to Ham House, the most significant house in Ham. The section of the path from Ham Common to Sandy Lane is called Great South Avenue and the section from Sandy Lane to Ham House is called Melancholy Walk.

Several notable period houses in Ham cluster around the Common including the Cassel Hospital, Langham House and Ormeley Lodge, which is currently owned by Lady Annabel Goldsmith. Victorian buildings include Latchmere House. Beaufort House in Ham Street, dating from 18C, is Grade II listed and was the home of Lady Juliana Penn from 1795 to her death in 1801.[43] In the grounds of Grey Court School is the Georgian, grade II listed Grey Court House, now called Newman House after Cardinal Newman, who lived there as a child in the early 19th century.[44]

There are four churches: Ham Christian Centre, St Andrew’s Church, St Thomas Aquinas Church and St Richard’s Church.


Ham is served by three bus routes: the 65, 371 and K5. All link the town with Kingston upon Thames, with the first two serving Richmond.

The Ham and Petersham Cricket Club was established in 1815 and cricket is still played on Ham Common.

The Ham Polo Club is at the end of a driveway off the Petersham Road. Though the club has been in existence since 1926 it was in 1954 that the old orchard of Ham House was converted into a polo ground for the club.

The Ham and Petersham Lawn Tennis Club has courts on the south avenue to Ham House in conjunction with Grey Court School.[46]

The former meadow land along the Thames near Ham House became the location of a King George’s Field in the 1930s. Covering 10 acres (4.0 ha), it provides cricket, football and tennis facilities. Several sports clubs and activities are based on and nearby.[47][48]

The Ham and Petersham Rifle and Pistol Club, dating from 1907 or perhaps earlier, is near Ham House, with both indoor and outdoor ranges and caters for archery, pistol and rifle shooting.[49]

The Kew and Ham Sports Association provides football and baseball facilities on the playing fields between Ham House and Thames Young Mariners.[50]

The Richmond Baseball and Softball Club plays its home games during the summer season at Connare Field and Flood Field in Ham.

The Thames Young Mariners provides sailing, canoeing, open-water swimming and other sport and outdoor activity facilities.[5]

Demography and housing[edit]

2011 Census homes
Ward Detached Semi-detached Terraced Flats and apartments Caravans/temporary/mobile homes/houseboats Shared between households[1]
(ward) 461 688 1,368 1,918 0 15
2011 Census households
Ward Population Households % Owned outright % Owned with a loan hectares[1]
(ward) 10,317 4,174 31 29 926

Notable people[edit]

Living people[edit]

Historical figures[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

Filming on Riverside Drive

The 2014 television film The Boy in the Dress, based on the novel by David Walliams, was largely filmed in Ham.[67] For example, the local newsagent’s shop used in the film is opposite St Richard’s Church, Ham,[citation needed] and other scenes were filmed at Grey Court School.[68]

Scenes from the 2016 film Now You See Me 2 were also filmed in Ham.[69]

See also[edit]



External links[edit]


Railway stations
Streets and roads
River Thames bridges, islands
and river services
Other rivers and streams
Sports venues
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Tragedy and disaster
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