Ham House was pretty impressive today. Bob got all squeamish about the wealth on display: they really did go OTT with the lavish decorations and furnishings - real 'look at how rich we are' style! Loved the period authenticity - the house dates from 1610 and (after a serious of improvements and extensions) much of it remains virtually unchanged since about the 1670s.
I liked the fact that the guiding (wealthy) hand shaping the house's style was that of a woman - Elizabeth Dysart (later Duchess of Lauderdale when she married for a second time)
Both Bob and I liked the servants working quarters in the basement very much indeed. Much simpler in style (obviously) and the real 'engine' of the house - the kitchen, the beer cellar, the meat hanging room, the servants's dining room. And - last but not least - the Duchess' great innovation: one of the first bathrooms ever built in this country (in 1675). This at a time when washing was not considered essential (she had a back staircase from her bedchamber directly to this bathroom) Apparently (although no longer to be seen), she also had a bathhouse built for her servants - outside in the courtyard, adjacent to her own bathroom.
I am fascinated by this woman and want to find out more about her.