Ha-Ha project completed at Burghley House

Burghley House director Miranda Rock with from left, clerk of works Alan Scott, stonemason Grady Willis, stonemason David Abbott, stonemason Rob Woodward and chairman of Burghley House Preservation Trust Sir John Nutting
Burghley House director Miranda Rock with from left, clerk of works Alan Scott, stonemason Grady Willis, stonemason David Abbott, stonemason Rob Woodward and chairman of Burghley House Preservation Trust Sir John Nutting

A £200,000 project to renovate a 250-year-old wall has been completed.

Work began 12 years ago to repair the ha-ha in the gardens of Burghley House.

Ha-ha is a term referring to a garden trench, one side of which is concealed from view. The trench keeps animals such as deer out of the main gardens, while giving an unobstructed view from the house windows above.

The ha-ha at Burghley was designed by renowned architect Lancelot “Capability” Brown in 1765 and had held firm for 230 years.

But water leaking from the garden coupled with frost damage lead to the trench wall collapsing, so 12 years ago the governors of the Burghley House Preservation Trust began a phased scheme to repair it.

The final stone was laid during a “topping-out” ceremony on Wednesday last week, just in time for the Queen’s visit for a diamond jubilee picnic on June 13.

A Burghley House Preservation Trust spokesman said: “Burghley is delighted to announce the completion of the renovation of its 18th century Ha Ha.

“After 12 years of phased work by dedicated local craftsmen, the £200,000 project is finally being completed just weeks before the special jubilee visit of Her Majesty the Queen to an invitation only picnic in Burghley Park.”

Work on the ha-ha was done by Uffington firm Abbey Stone and Masonry, the company responsible for maintaining the 14 miles of stone walls surrounding Burghley Park, with help from the estate maintenance team and gardeners.

Workers restored almost 300 metres of limestone wall while removing more than 2,500 tonnes of old stone and rubble from the site. The renovation has been a major undertaking for the estate, costing about £20,000 a year.

Craftsmen were able to install some discreet modern improvements to the original design, including improved drainage and a buried plastic membrane to prevent further water damage.