FOR SALE des-res in Ham – Thames side location just a short walk from Richmond … price £1,131! Okay, that was in 1650, just 40 years after it was built by by Sir Thomas Vavasour, goodness knows what it would be worth today … only Russian oligarchs need apply. Back then however it seemed to be mainly Scots who had the money. Firstly it was William Murray, 1st Earl of Dysart, then Lord Elgin, then John Maitland, 1st Duke of Lauderdale, then Archibald Campbell, 1st Duke of Argyll … in fact several Dukes of Argyll were born here?? The last Earl of Dysart, the 9th, died in 1935 leaving almost £5million but with no direct heirs so in 1948 it passed to the National Trust … and hence they let riffraff like us in. The interior of the house is supposed to be spectacular but we didn’t bother going in … scones we were after! The gardens are extensive and beautifully manicured and apparently the oldest Christ’s thorn bush in the country is situated right here on the tea terrace outside the orangery. Not old enough to have provided anything for the crucifixion … but old. The orangery itself is said to be the oldest in the country but then again, the country is not exactly stacked out with orangeries. It was a lovely day for sitting out so once we had acquired everything from the self service counter that’s what we did. The scones were good and were accompanied by the ubiquitous Rhodda’s Cornish Cream that we are always going on about. Down here it seems much more acceptable than it does in the Highlands of Scotland where there is plenty of local cream. There was also ‘National Trust’ jam and a pat of butter. We were here with our daughter who lives not far away from here. Before we realised what was happening she had done her scone cream first … arrgghh, dragged up!
Nevertheless, no matter which way you prepared these scones they were very good, not topscones but very good. All in all this was a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon. A friend from Maryland who had stayed with us some months back had become fascinated by the word ‘dreich’ … which in Scottish means ‘inclement’ or ‘pretty miserable’. He emailed to see if it could be applied to hurricanes or if we had another word for that. We had to let him know that ‘dreich’ was about as serious as our weather gets so, no, we didn’t have another word. It made us realise, though, with Hurricane Irma reaking havoc all through the Caribbean, how lucky we are to have the weather we have … even though all we do is complain about it.
TW10 7RS tel: 020 8940 1950 The Orangery TA