Why are they called Ha-has?

Working on a big country property project at the moment, we are looking at using Ha-has as a method of separating paddocks and discreetly placing roads within the landscape, whilst retaining views of a seamless landscape.

I thought I’d look up the typical section for a Ha-ha which is as follows (the view is set up from the right):

Image via: Wikipedia

However, more entertaining than the concept of the ha-has is the where the name came from.   Wikipedia has the following to say:

The ha-ha is a feature in the landscape gardens laid out by Charles Bridgeman, the originator of the ha-ha, according to Horace Walpole (Walpole 1780), and by William Kent and was an essential component of the “swept” views of Capability Brown.

“The contiguous ground of the park without the sunk fence was to be harmonized with the lawn within; and the garden in its turn was to be set free from its prim regularity, that it might assort with the wilder country without. “

Walpole surmised that the name is derived from the response of ordinary folk on encountering them and that they were, “…then deemed so astonishing, that the common people called them Ha! Has! to express their surprise at finding a sudden and unperceived check to their walk.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ha-ha

Ah, the common people.. imagine what they’d be called today..

Image: Royal Crescent, Bath.  By Wikipedia.

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