Everyone seems very happy about the opening up of the front of Bell House which has exposed the ha-ha. As Wikipedia explains, a ha-ha is a recessed landscape design element that creates a vertical barrier while preserving an uninterrupted view of the landscape beyond. This is probably the only ha-ha in Dulwich and was originally intended to keep out animals while giving a view from the house across fields towards what is now College Gardens and, beyond that, to Belair Park. Clearing out the depression in front of the ha-ha has been a major task - we have found vast quantities of bottles, cans, old bits of cars and general litter but we have now removed all that rubbish, much of it half-buried, and strimmed down the brambles . Our plan for this outside area is to increase the number of bluebells and wild flowers.
This clearance at the front of Bell House has of course left a security gap between the gates so we have erected a long set of railings which have just been completed. We used a local welding company, run by Ian Cullingford, who put up railings that minimised any damage to the original wall. The railings may look as if they are drilled into the wall but in fact they are supported from behind the wall and just rest on the wall. Ian has also protected the limestone curves at each end by making a curved frame for the railings. Ian mostly specialises in fire escapes but we knew he would do our railings brilliantly as he has been taking on these engineering challenges for over 30 years - http://www.fireescape.co.uk
At either side of the railings there are gateways where we plan to install matching gates but before we can do that the leaning wall on the left will have to be rebuilt - that work is planned for later in the summer but certainly before the end of 2017 - the 250th anniversary of the wall and of Bell House itself.