Explore underground passages, precipice walks, dramatic views and a few follies thrown in, Hawkstone is a magical place to visit.
With names like Awful Precipice, the Indian Rock, Fox’s Knob and St Francis’s Cave, this is a landscape of the unexpected.
The BBC’s adaptation of BBC’s Narnia was filmed here.
Limited access for wheelchair users and pushchairs.
Remember to bring torches!
The gardens are closed in November, December and January.
The gardens are open on selected dates – usually Friday, Saturday and Sundays during term time and daily during the school holidays.
Hawkstone was bought by Sir Rowland Hill in 1556. In 1707, Richard Hill who had made a fortune by ‘lucrative arithmetik’ remodelled The Hall and laid out the gardens. In 1740s, Sir Rowland Hill began work on developing the surrounding sandstone hills. Hawkstone was inherited by his son Richard, who with his brother John, added to the landscape with terraces, avenues, a shell encrusted grotto with a wax effigy of a Hill ancestor who ‘gradually rises up before you’, summerhouses and a Cold Bath.
Hawkstone became a popular tourist attraction in 18th century with Dr. Samuel Johnson visiting Hawkstone in 1774. Johnson wrote: ‘Its prospects, the awfulness of its shades, the horrors of its precipices, the verdure of its hollows and the loftiness of its rocks…Above is inaccessible altitude, below is horrible profundity.’
The first guidebook of Hawkstone was published in 1776 with a 6th edition in 1799. An inn was also built to accommodate the growing number of visitors.
But in 1894, the last member of the Hill family was declared bankrupt and Hawkstone was sold. It passed through several hands until 1924, when the Park was divided up and sold in lots.
The Hall was bought by the Redemptorist Fathers but in 2017 was bought by The Distinctly Hospitable Group. They have converted the building into a hotel.
Visitors can once again stay at the inn, renamed Hawkstone Park Hotel. In 1990, the new owners of the hotel began restoring the Follies. They were reopened to the public in 1993.