Ham House rests on a special stretch of the Thames and was once a centre of politics, pageantry and pleasure.

During the last weekend in August, visitors to the house can learn about its historic background during a number of talks, as well as go boating, play with a camera obscura, delve into the wildlife in the meadows and go for walks and picnics in its beautiful grounds.

The camera obscura, an invention used by artists to capture an image of the landscape, will be available for guests to try.

Paintings conservation adviser Tina Sitwell and various artists will be on hand to talk about the fascinating history of this device and how to create a drawing with it.

A number of talks will be arranged by the National Trust which include speeches by David Taylor, the National Trust’s curator of pictures and sculpture, who will relive the excitement of the grand river pageants of Catherine of Braganza, the wife of Charles II.

There is also an opportunity to hear from the National Trust’s head curator David Adshead and Jason Devney, from the Thames Landscape Strategy, on the historic river landscape and how it is preserved and re-established.

National Trust members have free admission, but must pay for the evening talks which include a glass of bubbly.

Picnic baskets are available both days, packed with delicious food, drinks and a walks leaflet.

Ham House Uncovered; Ham House; Admission - free for members, £4.50 non members, Talks £7; nationaltrust.org.uk/hamhouse.