13 June 2011

Rear terrace at Ham House

Ham House is my local National Trust property. It's only about 1.5 Km away and I have free entry thanks to The Art Fund so I pop-in a few times a year.

When I say pop-in I mean in to the garden, the inside of the house is of little interest to me.

To be even more specific it's the back of the house and the gardens there that I go to see.

The back of the house is bright and orderly, unlike the cluttered front. And it helps that it is South facing so the sun bleaches the brick and the light plays with the white of the windows.

Running across the back of the house is a wide terrace gravel terrace that shrieks order and cleanliness. It's width and height providing a clear break between the house and the garden.

As the terrace steps gingerly down from the house to the garden it plays host to a line of bright orange urns that stand motionless as if protecting the house from what might emerge from The Wilderness beyond the lawns.

The garden begins with another gravel path, the first of several that cut through the lawn to make a pattern of squares.

A row of climbing plants soften the drop and make a bold line of green that can be seen from the garden but not from the house.

Either side of the house a hedge maintains the straight edge of the terrace and in front of this is a deep colourful border that rejoices in not being straight or ordered.

Ham House is not as big or as grand as some other country mansions but it's attention to detail in things like the rear terrace make a visit there always rewarding, though, to be honest, being free to me is the biggest thing in its favour.

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