From Barnhill to La Granja


The Orwell Society has a simple but effective way of connecting the world to George Orwell: the Barnhill Slate. Each slate bears a piece of the tiled roof under which Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four and bears an image of the house, Barnhill, and an inscription. The Society recognises those who have made a contribution to Orwell’s memory by the gift of a Barnhill Slate.


The Fascists never dropped their shells on our parapet. A few hundred yards behind us there was a country house, called La Granja, with big farm-buildings, which was used as a store, headquarters, and cookhouse for this sector of the line. It was this that the Fascist gunners were trying for … (Homage to Catalonia, Chapter Six, original edition)



Since the Orwell Society made its first visit to the Aragon Front and explored the towns and locations in the rear, we have been made welcome by the Pedro Mainer Maza de Lizana, the current owner of La Granja, now not just an impressive country house but a working farm.



After some problems with our own logistics, we have recently been able to show our appreciation to Pedro Mainer Maza de Lizana with the presentation of a Barnhill Slate. Our thanks to Victor Pardo Lancina as our intermediary for the photograph(s).


La Granja, our store and cook-house, had possibly at one time been a convent. It had huge courtyards and out-houses, covering an acre or more, with stabling for thirty or forty horses. The country-houses in that part of Spain are of no interest architecturally, but their farm-buildings, of lime-washed stone with round arches and magnificent roof-beams, are noble places, built on a plan that has probably not altered for centuries. (Homage to Catalonia)


Orwell went on to mention “The little church that adjoined it [the house proper],  its walls perforated by shell-holes”: that building is now expertly restored.


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