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Ham, London facts for kids

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Ham House 2007.jpg
Ham House in 2007
London Buses route 65 Ham Parade (1).jpg
Housing by Ham Parade
Area 9.26 km2 (3.58 sq mi)
Population 10,317 (Ham Petersham and Richmond Riverside wards 2011)
• Density 1,114/km2 (2,890/sq mi)
OS grid reference TQ1772
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town RICHMOND
Postcode district TW10
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament
  • Richmond Park
London Assembly
  • South West
  • South West
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LondonCoordinates: 51°26′06″N 0°18′36″W / 51.435°N 0.310°W / 51.435; -0.310

Ham is a suburban district in south-west London which 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, and during the summer months Hammerton's Ferry a pedestrian ferry links it to Marble Hill House, Twickenham.

Apart from semi-rural Petersham, Richmond Park and the town of Kingston, the neighbouring land is on the opposite side of the river: Teddington and Twickenham (including Strawberry Hill).

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. 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. 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 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.


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.


The name derives from the Old English word Hamme meaning place in the bend of a river.


The Thames Valley has been inhabited since the Palaeolithic period and finds of Palaeolithic flints near to White Lodge, Richmond Park show that Ham was part of early human territory. Later, Mesolithic, flints found at Ham dip, Dann's Pond and Pen Ponds within the park are also evidence of early habitation as are Neolithic barrows on the ridge of the hill overlooking Petersham, Ham and Kingston. These have not been excavated, so it is impossible to date them precisely, but barrows are known to span the period from 3500BC to 900BC. Several surface finds of flint tools, axes, adzes, scrapers, awls chisels and knives as well as arrowheads, hammer stones and flint shards were made during gravel workings in Ham Fields at Coldharbour, near to the present day Thames Young Mariners site (51°26′19″N 0°19′32″W / 51.438655°N 0.325586°W / 51.438655; -0.325586) and further east in maize fields now covered by housing. These finds are made from high quality flint from the North Downs rather than local river-bourne flints from the Thames Valley, implying human transportation and a settled rather than nomadic lifestyle in the area. Many of these artifacts are part of the Edwards Collection and housed in the Museum of Richmond. Other finds from Ham are held at the Museum of London including an early Bronze Age collared urn, also from the Edwards Collection.

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.

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.


Tollemache Almshouses
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.

Historically, Ham covered a larger area. The boundaries shown in the tithe map of 1843 are believed to have changed little, if at all, for centuries. The southern boundary between Ham and Kingston spanned the width of the hundred, from near present-day Canbury Gardens on the Thames, about 2.5 miles (4.0 km) eastwards crossing Richmond Park to Beverley Brook. The northern boundary returned through Richmond Park from Beverley Brook, south of White Lodge through the northern Pen Pond, across Sudbrook Park westwards towards Ham Street then veering north back to the Thames.

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.

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. 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.

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.


Ham Pond
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.

In contrast, Langham House Close, to the west of Ham Common, completed in 1958, is an early example of brutalist architecture and just to the north of Ham Parade is Parkleys. Started in 1954 and completed in 1956, Parkleys was the first large-scale residential development by the pioneering SPAN Developments Ltd of Eric Lyons and Geoffrey Townsend.

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


Ham is served by four bus routes: the 65, 371, 691 and K5. All link the town with Kingston upon Thames, with the first two serving Richmond.

Demography and housing

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

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