Hawkshead is an ancient township that has flourished since Norse times, belonging to Furness Abbey until the 12th Century. The monks owned  Hawkshead Hall, just outside the village, of which the National Trust owned Hawkshead Courthouse is all that remains. After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1537, Hawkshead grew as a  market town, with many buildings dating from the 17th Century.


image of Hawkshead Methodist Church in the Lake District
The Methodist church in Hawkshead Square.

Parking in Hawkshead

The tiny village is still the same collection of higgledy-piggledy houses, archways, and squares beloved by William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter. Cars are banned from the village, there being  a large car park on the outskirts of the village. Tourism is now the main industry in the village, with many pleasant inns, guest houses, teashops and gift shops.


image of Hawkshead Village in the Lake District
Looking at Anne Tyson’s Cottage on Leather, Rag and Putty Street (now – Wordsworth St)

Hawkshead History

Whilst at school in Hawkshead, William lodged with Ann Tyson and her husband, who were in their sixties, first in the village, then at Colthouse where they moved in 1783. Anne Tyson’s cottage is now used as a holiday cottage.


The Old Grammar School was founded in 1585 by the  Archbishop of York, Edwin Sandys. The ground floor classroom retains many old desks covered in carving done by the boys,  including the poet William Wordsworth and his brother John. The school closed in  1909. Upstairs in the headmaster’s study and a classroom containing an exhibition relating to the  history of the school, the founder and William Wordsworth.


image of an aerial view of Hawkshead Village in the Lake District
Church and old grammar school just left of centre

The Beatrix Potter Gallery, a 17th Century building, was once the  office of the local solicitor William Heelis, who married Beatrix Potter in 1913, and has remained largely unaltered since his day. The Gallery, now owned byThe National Trust,  houses an annually changing  exhibition of a selection of Beatrix Potter’s original drawings and illustrations. The National Trust also own many other buildings in the village, thus preserving its almost museum like air.


About half a mile out of Hawkshead is the hamlet of Colthouse. Here is one of the oldest Quaker meeting houses in Cumbria.


The 17th Century Church of St Michael & All Angels stands high looking out over the village, and has fine views to Esthwaite Water, Claife Heights, Latterbarrow, Helvellyn and the Langdales.

Grizedale Forest

Less than 3 miles from the village is the Forestry Commission Grizedale Visitor Centre. Set in the heart of Grizedale Forest, there are visitor facilities including tea rooms, adventure playground and Tree Top Trek. Mountain bike hire is available at the start of miles of biking trails through the forest. It is also an excellent start for forest walks.

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Grid Ref : NY 352982