What is a Ha-ha?

What is a ha-ha? And is it funny? A “ha-ha” is a feature in English gardens that keeps the animals out of the garden, but does not look like an obvious wall or fence. It gives you an uninterupted view from the garden to the fields beyond. From one side you see the ha-ha, from the other side you don’t. You find them in gardens all over England but it is easy to miss them if you don’t know what you are looking for. One of the most famous is in Bath, in the grounds in front of the Royal Crescent.

We came across this one early in our trip when we were staying in Windsor and touring some of the Thames Valley towns with our friends Wendy and Richard who live in the area (we met Wendy and Richard on the SlowTrav forums years ago).

Ha-ha at Greys Court - now you see it
Ha-ha at Greys Court – now you see it
Ha-ha at Greys Court - now you don't
Ha-ha at Greys Court – now you don’t

That is Richard in the second photo demonstrating the ha-ha. This one is in Greys Court, a National Trust house and garden in Oxfordshire, not far from Henley-on-Thames (between London and the Cotswolds). Visiting a National Trust property is a fun thing to do when visiting England. There are many of them in the Cotswolds and nearby. This property had a Tudor Manor (15th century), gardens inside medieval walls, a wisteria walk (still in bloom in late May when we were there) and a flat brick maze.

If you are looking for a ha-ha in the Cotswolds, there is a good one in Hidcote Manor Garden, another National Trust property.


Wikipedia – Ha-ha

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Pauline Kenny

Pauline Kenny and Steve Cohen are US expats living in Dorset. We moved to the UK in 2010. Read about our move. If you would like to talk about travel, please join us on the Slow Europe Travel Forums.

2 thoughts on “What is a Ha-ha?”

  1. Hi Pauline!
    I recently read a novel by Dave King called “The Ha-Ha” that made me think of this post. The lead character is the groundskeeper at a convent, and the property includes a ha-ha. It plays an important part in the story.

    I really enjoyed the book, and probably wouldn’t have been aware of it if it hadn’t been for Softdrink Jill loaning it to me. The story is incredibly well done for a first time author; he really made the characters come alive. Here’s Jill’s review: http://www.fizzythoughts.com/2009/02/the-ha-ha.html

  2. Wow! What a surprising place to find a plug for my work. Thank you so much for your kind words.

    I’m also intrigued to see that today’s blog hails from Montepulciano. As it turns out, I spent part of my reckless youth not too far away, on a hillside above Greve in Chianti. I send every good wish for a wonderful 2010, and perhaps on our travels our paths will someday cross.

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