Cottage in Hawkshead copyright Paul Reynolds

Hawkshead Conservation Area

Why is Hawkshead special?

Hawkshead is a small historic town of exceptional character, with few parallels in the UK, deserving to be considered one of the country’s top conservation areas. It's attractive architectural and historic character includes:

  • an historic core that is largely untouched by twentieth century development, resulting from informal organic growth and plot infilling as well as from formal town planning
  • Consisting of a tangle of narrow streets, squares, yards and alleys (ginnels) that thread between a closely packed jumble of houses, inns, shops, outhouses and civic buildings
  • Some with upper storeys that form bridges across the street, some built so closely together that the footpaths are only just wide enough for humans and pack animals to pass
  • Many with archways to the street that lead to long cobbled yards with back buildings of a kind that many other towns once had but that have now been lost to redevelopment
  • Resulting in a town that is built to a human scale, both in terms of buildings and the spaces in between, with little motorised traffic
  • Tucked into the side of a steep hill on whose crown sits the parish church of St Michael and All Angles, set in a large churchyard with many historic tombs and headstones, and sweeping views over the rooftops of the town to some of the highest fells in the Lake District
  • With some buildings of exceptional historic character, ranging in date from medieval to late 19th century, including the 12th-century church, the Grammar School (founded 1588) and the Town Hall (1790)
  • Surrounded by green fields that serve as a buffer, protecting the town from intrusive modern development; but with some good examples of modern design (Red Lion Yard) that take their architectural theme from the town’s older buildings
  • Married to a thriving tourism, hospitality and retail sector that successfully co-exist with the historic town.

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