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Ha-ha walls: no laughing matter

One side of the Ha-ha wall
One side of the Ha-ha

A section of ha-ha wall discovered in a park in Northampton has been restored. Great Billing Pocket Park formed part of the land that belonged to Billing Hall which was demolished in 1956.

The ha-ha wall ran down the western side of what is now the Pocket Park to create a barrier to prevent animals getting out, without spoiling the landscape.

Jim Snedker, one of the volunteers at the park said, "we found the foundations of this old wall in this ditch so we decided we'd rebuild a bit of it. Volunteers have rebuilt a section of the ha-ha wall and put a sign up to educate the youngsters about what a ha-ha is."

Ha-ha walls formed a boundary between an estate's gardens and grounds. They were built to be invisible from the house, ensuring a clear view across the estate.

They consist of a sunken stone wall which is level with the garden at the top and has a deep ditch on the far side to protect the garden from livestock.

"That side would have been the formal gardens and this side would have been the pastures. There would have been no houses, no roads and this would have just been pasture land with cattle and sheep. Penfold Lane, which is the road that runs down into Great Billing, that was where they penned the sheep, so Penfold." Said Jim.

Ha-ha at Castle Ashby
The Ha-ha Castle Ashby

Seventeenth century gardener Charles Bridgeman is credited with introducing the Ha-ha to European gardens. His contemporaries like Capability Brown, who laid out the gardens at Castle Ashby, followed suit.

The origin of the name is ambiguous but it's thought it came from the surprised noises uttered by those who came across one of these hidden walls, whilst out for a leisurely stroll.

Gt Billing Park needs more help
10 Dec 09 |  Nature & Outdoors



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