Hawkstone is probably one of the most spectacular and breathtaking parks and follies Britain has to offer and without a doubt one of my personal favourites.  I have many a fond memory attending historical re-enactment events here.
Situated off a country road that runs between Weston on the A49 and Hodnet on the A442, the site and it’s surrounding area has such a wealth of history along with a mix of myth, legend and folklore that you could fill a book let alone a blog post. I am considering developing a whole page dedicated to the site. That at least will be a good excuse for some more visits :-).  For the moment thou I’ll try and keep it short and sweet (kept a look out for future posts or pages).

Hawkstone park was the used for the setting of Narnia in the 1988 BBC TV series of the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (link here to BBC Shropshire page) and I’ve heard also one of the inspirations for JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth, though I have nothing to collaborate this as of yet.

There have been a number of castles on the site over the years but the first was built by Henry de Audley in 1227. It fell into ruin after the then owner James Tuchet the 7th Baron of Audley led an unsuccessfully rebellion against King Henry VII and was executed in 1497 .
The lands eventually passed to Sir Rowland Hill, 1st Baronet Hill of Hawkstone in the 18th century and it is he who turned much of the landscape into the follies that you now see today.

Hawkstone Park and Follies

The Site
The site walk takes you through some of the most beautiful Shropshire countryside with majestic woodland some stunning cliff edge walks, ravines, caves and tunnels. The view looks out over the Shropshire and Cheshire planes through the Welsh Marches too distant Welsh mountains.

The Follies
The follies themselves are primarily of 18th century construction with some modern additions, these are situated throughout the site and make for a great afternoons walk

  • Gothic Arch, This stone arch sits on top of Grotto Hill overlooking the surrounding countryside.
  • Gingerbread Hall, A thatched, open sided wooden building at the start of the walk up to the top of Grotto Hill
  • The Retreat, A man made alcove carved into the cliff face with seating.
  • The Hermitage, Another thatched wooden building made to look like a hermits retreat.
  • The Monument, This 112 feet high Monument was built in 1795 to commemorate the Sir Rowland Hill and has a statue of him on top.
  • The White Tower, Although now red this tower was once lime washed white so hence the name.
  • The Urn, This is a tribute to a English Civil War ancestor.

The Caves
The caves though added to in the 18th century are believed to be much older Roman or Dark Age copper mines. Many stories surround these caves with tales of King Arthur finding refuge in them during his Saxon campaigns and connections with both the Knights Templar and grail stories.

Interestingly though during some work in the caves an old statue was moved and an old wooden box was discovered. In it wrapped in a cloth was a simple stone chalice about the size of an egg cup was discovered which turned out to of Roman origin and of the type intended to hold scented oils used in ceremonies. To read more of this it the author Graham Phillips has written a book in which this features titled ‘The Search for the Grail’. More information on this can be found on his website click here.

Another online article which I came across regarding this can be fount here on britannia.com.

Other Details
As a final note the site of Hawkstone Park is only a stones thrown from a large iron age hill fort know as Burry Walls which seems to have been a major local iron age power base (700BCE to 43CE) with the top being heavily fortified and many of the original feature of the fort are still intact beneath the ground. For more information and photos please take a look at these web pages from the website ‘Secret Shropshire’ Page 1, Page 2.

 

Useful links: Hawkstone Park and Follies website

 

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