Ha-Ha. But not as funny as it used to be.

Orgreave Hall, North Elevation. May 2012
I adore the swan-neck pediment – like eyebrows wearing a sardonic expression!

Wet trouser bottoms through the knee high winter wheat at 7.00 a.m., perusing Orgreave on a lovely May morning.

I give the present occupant of Orgreave Hall a gold star for replanting some missing lime saplings at the end of the magnificent avenues of couple-of-hundred-year-old trees leading to the interesting period house they own. Re-enclosing the Orangery on the South Front was also a praiseworthy effort.  However, if bolder, I would have ventured a “See me” in the margin before the historic earth work which was the Ha-Ha bordering the gardens on its North elevation had been completely obliterated by an ugly bank of earth and weeds.

As it is, there’s another black mark in my little book against the names of the chance custodians of an important element in my immediate environment.

Ed-Ward Ward is oblivious to the travesty of the back-filled Ha-Ha.
Yew planted initially, but Leyland Cypress in the foreground.

Why fill in the Ha-Ha I would like to ask?  To what end?  For privacy, a hedge has already been planted – a tautology of boundaries, but still…..Topping off the garden perimeter with English Yew is aesthetically permissible (Although, as one suspects, ponies should later be desired, it is unwise) – but to continue the evergreen hedge with a line of Cupressus Leylandii is a sin in my moral universe.

Deep breath,  and remind myself of the fate of nearby Kings Bromley Manor, and a score of other minor stately homes of Staffordshire, which were demolished all too recently due to lack of interest at best, and the cumulative effects of the Politics of Envy at worst. At least Orgreave Hall, with its jolly, perfectly symmetrical, Queen Anne facades without,  and its much older history now well concealed within, still exists for us to enjoy. Older residents of the hamlet can remember the superfluous-to-requirements two wings of the building coming down in the 1950s.  This was after Colonel Harrison’s family, inhabiting the Hall with a veritable “Downton Abbey” cast of retainers according to the 1911 census, had migrated to their other local homestead just over the river at Wychnor (retaining our cottage as a home for their gamekeeper).  It could so easily have been the whole lot, lying in a dusty heap behind the fancy iron gates.

Orgreave Hall, South Elevation, December 2010

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8 Responses to Ha-Ha. But not as funny as it used to be.

  1. Dear Susan Marie. I have read with interest your article about Keepers Cottage on Brownhills Bob’s blog. My grandmother (whose maiden name was Blann) and grandfather used to take me to Keepers Cottage to visit when I was a girl. I would think that would be in the early 1950’s. I seem to remember playing with a girl of a similar age to myself (I was born in 1943) and her name was Ann. Is my memory playing tricks on me? I now live in Australia but have driven past Keepers Cottage occasionally when I have been back in the UK visiting. Best wishes. Jean Burke.

    • Jean, How lovely to hear from you. You are remembering my cousin, Josephine Ann – always known as Ann in the family – who just celebrated her Golden Wedding Anniversary, and is mother of 4 and grandmother of at least one! She is an ordained minister and an accomplished artist and now lives in Wales.

      My grandmother was Mary Elizabeth Blann, and your grandmother must have been her sister Florence? Our mutual Great Grandfather, Enoch Blann, and his wife Fanny are interesting characters who I will be writing about.

      I would be so interested to hear about your memories of Keepers Cottage, and of your Grandmother.

      • Dear Susan. This is so exciting. Yes, my grandmother was Florence! And I remember Ann having beautiful long auburn hair. I remember walking into the kitchen and on the left was the water pump at the kitchen sink. The sink was big, but shallow, and brown on the outside. Funny the things you remember but I was used to turning on a tap at home and had never seen water come out of a pump before. I have two brothers David and Lawrence, and David is the family archivist. I’ll see what info he has on this side of the family. My brother Lawrence wrote to me recently with memories of Keepers Cottage but I can’t find the email. I’ll see if I he has a copy. Best wishes. Jean.

  2. Pedro says:


    Came over to your Blog from Browhills Bob.

    I can see by the above comments that you have already had great success!

    Interesting that you say that Orgreave Hall is privately owned as when I Googled it there were several mentions of it being a Residential Home.

    WE Harrison, known to his friends as the Colonel, wethinks got his titles via the Territorials…

    “Captain Harrison’s son WE Harrison filled the role of officer commanding in the new company and was immediately appointed to the rank of Major despite having no previous military experience. He later becomes Lieut-Colonel…”

    Regards Pedro

  3. Pedro says:

    For the record, Orgreave Hall is Grade II Listed and the details can be seen here including your swans…


    All the best Pedro

  4. Pedro, it was a Care Home until relatively recently. I’ll be filling in the gaps in a future post. Thank you so much for connecting with me. I look forward to future interaction!

    • Just emailed you Susan. Incidentally, it’s 3:30am here, I don’t usually blog in the middle of the night but I couldn’t sleep so got up to make a cup of tea. It was by chance I saw the email from my brother David which led me to your blog.

  5. Pedro says:

    Last night my thoughts turned again to Orgreave Hall, it must be the heat,

    We had done a circular walk in August 2007 from near Orgreave and I had uploaded photos on to my gallery on Panoramio. Having looked at them again I realised that I had not uploaded the one of the Hall! I have now done so and it can be seen here…


    On this one we can see the one of the huge marble balls!

    My theory is that an episode of “The Prisoner” must have been filmed there.

    Regards Pedro

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