The village owes its existence to monks from Furness Abbey, who founded Hawkshead as a center for the medieval wool trade.
Wool – bog business at the time – built the large church above grey slate roofs and white walls.
Following the dissolution of the abbey under Henry VIII, Hawkshead was granted its own market charter by James I in 1608, and became one of the main trading villages in the central Lakes.
By then the town had gained a grammar school, which was established by Archbishop Edwin Sandys of York in 1585.
Its most famous pupil was the poet William Wordsworth who described its warren of alleys, overhanging gables and medieval squares in his poem, The Prelude.
Hawkshead’s other famous literary connection is the children’s writer and illustrator Beatrix Potter (1866-1944) who purchased Hill Top Farm in Near Sawrey at the opposite end of Esthwaite Water in 1906.
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