Friday, April 23, 2010

Ha-ha! Did you know?

Castle Ashby Ha-ha, Northamptonshire
with the Orangery in the background
Photo: R. Neil Marshman 

I didn't.  I was reading about Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire and the article said the grounds had a ha-ha.  A what?  So, I clicked on the big W and read all about it.  The above pic shows the ha-ha looking towards the house, while the photo below shows the uninterrupted view from the house.  It is so-named because of the reaction of most people when happening upon one.  One wouldn't be walking at night-time without a torch!

This from Wikipedia:  "The Ha-ha is an expression in garden design that refers to a trench, the inner side of which is vertical and faced with stone,, with the outer face sloped and turfed, making the trench, in effect, a sunken fence or retaining wall.  The ha-ha is designed not to interrupt the view from a garden, pleasure-ground, or park, and to be invisible until seen from close by."

Castle Ashby - looking over the Ha-ha
Photo: R Neil Marshman

The ha-ha is designed to keep animals from entering the property around a building and can also be used to deter people from getting out; as in the following pics of two lunatic asylums (yep, that's what they were called once) that existed in Melbourne in the 19th and 20th century.  The ha-ha enabled the patients to see the outside world.

       Melbourne Victoria, c.1900

Ha-ha at the former Kew Lunatic Asylum
What would have been a ladies' courtyard

The main building and surrounding grounds of the Kew Asylum (later known as Willsmere) were sold by the government in the 1980s and it is now the site of the exclusive Willsmere Apartments.  Many of the ha-ha walls have been repaired and remain intact on the property.

So, there you have it - ha-ha!


Wanda said...

That was most interesting, Alaine. It's sort of a common sense solution to a problem, but it's new to me too!

alaine@éclectique said... is a great idea but can you imagine the work involved on some of those English country estates centuries ago when they didn't have bulldozers?

maggie's garden said...

I would just love to visit there. I've never heard about the ha-ha...quite interesting.
Your blog has taken on a wonderful fresh the colors and the header. And the photos of your place with just a touch of fall are beautiful...Happy Earth Day Alaine.

alaine@éclectique said...

Maggie...thank you and a Happy Earth Day to you too!
I changed my blog because I felt like something bright and happy for Autumn and winter coming on. But it's like my house, I'm always doing something different, so this colour might not last very long!!

Derrick said...

A new day dawns down under, eh Alaine?! Love the new look. I knew the term ha-ha and its relation to grand gardens but didn't really know it's just a fancy garden wall! Definitely need to watch your step though!

Susan said...

Love that first ha-ha that really disappears into the ground. I think if I happened on that in the dark, I would more likely be saying "Oh, s**t!", instead of ha-ha! ;)

Friko said...

many Stately Homes and palaces still have ha-has in the UK. If you see one for real you get the idea quite easily.

Ha-has really do keep livestock out of 'one's garden'.
and they absolutely make it possible to look over 'one's park'.

Nancy said...

I like how it allows the view to be unspoiled. I'll bet the people in the asylum appreciated not looking out on fences. We call them retaining walls here, and they are usually used just to hold back dirt.

Teri said... learn something new every day! Thanks for the lesson. I guess I won't forget this one. Kind of the original idea of a "vanishing edge" isn't it. (like a vanishing edge pool) or a ha ha pool!

alaine@éclectique said...

Teri...I know! You do learn something every day! Yes, I love those pool edges that have the ocean behind them and I reckon you should trademark that, a ha-ha pool, fantastic! No end to it, is there!

Lyn said...

I'm so glad that life contains a Ha-Ha..I knew it..of course it turns out to be some sort of almost invisible the spookiness of it, of course! Thanks..
Encountered several Hoo-Ha's in my time..not the same!!

alaine@éclectique said...

Lyn...haha, either fall over the edge or, coming the other way, down the trench and hit the wall - in the dark, that is.