The Fox's Knob
The Fox's Knob is a sandstone rocky outcrop at Hawkstone Park & Follies in North Shropshire.
A description of Hawkstone written in 1832 describes the knob and its legend:
THE FOX'S KNOB
A lofty insulated mass of rock, which derives its name from the circumstance of a Fox, which some years ago jumped from the top of it to the valley beneath, when unkennelled there by a pack of fox-hounds: the fall cost Reynard his life, as well as some of the dogs which followed him. This detached bit of rock is of a pyramidal form and finely clothed with trees and ivy, the roots of which are wreathed in a thousand fantastic forms.
The name "The Fox's Knob" was in use as early as 1784.
Hawkstone Park & Follies
In 1774 Dr. Johnson, the famous lexicographer, wit and conversationalist, 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."
He was just one of the visitors to probably the most famous of all Georgian Pleasure Gardens. The Park was first laid out around 1748 by Sir Rowland Hill when he acquired the Red Castle and bought it into his estate. The first map of the laid out walk dates back to 1752.
The Park retained its popularity for many years, but by the early 20th century it was neglected and forgotten by all but a few local people. In 1990 the owners of the adjacent Hawkstone Park Hotel acquired the Park and set about an ambitious restoration programme. After a great deal of hard work the Park was re-opened to the public in 1993.
Hawkstone Park and Follies sympathetically restored and enhanced by many a new feature, is one spot that you must not miss when visiting Shropshire. It would be possible to describe at great length all its features, but it is probably better to advise you to go back and read Dr. Johnson's quote; if you too want to experience such awe then pay Hawkstone a visit.
Legend says that King Arthur once lived nearby and a good many stories support this.
Two giants, Tarquin & Tarquinus, lived at the Red Castle (the ruined tower "Giant's Well" is named after them). Their brother, Sir Caradus, was a great fighter. He used to tour the country kidnapping knights and holding them for ransom. When King Arthur's knights Lancelot and Tristram heard he'd captured their fellow round-tabler Sir Gawain, they decided to take action. When they caught up with Sir Caradus at Killyards near Weston Church, Lancelot and Caradus set to in an epic battle in which, after much time and effort, Lancelot came out triumphant and Gawain was set free.
In another story, the giants Sir Edward and Sir Hugh are resident at the castle. They cheat a lady and then imprison her on the "Raven's Shelf" (another sandstone rock abutment). Another of Arthur's knights, Ewaine, decides his next adventure will be to free the "Lady of the Rock".
He tries diplomacy and invites the giants, Edward and Hugh to talks. Alas, when the meeting takes place the giants bring 100 fighting men with them. Ewaine, ever feisty, says he will take them all on, but the lady forbids such a foolhardy venture. Ewaine compromises by challenging both giant brothers to a battle. Five hours later, although wounded, Ewaine kills Sir Edward and Sir Hugh surrenders and agrees to give the lady her liberty and her money back. He also promises to go to King Arthur and make a lasting peace.
There is another long legend of knights of old about a certain Fulk FitzWarin, you'll find Michael Rosen's poetic version here. Happy Reading!
The flower in the picture is the woolly foxglove (Digitalis lanata). The foxglove had long been used as a folk remedy in Shropshire. Foxglove leaves were placed in children's shoes to prevent Scarlet Fever. The leaves were also an important ingredient in the traditional remedy for Dropsy. This led to a major medical discovery. In 1775 William Withering looked at this traditional Shropshire remedy and decided the most important ingredient of the cure was the foxglove leaves. He began to experiment and after about 10 years of research concluded that the leaves had 'a power over the motion of the heart to a degree not yet observed in any other medicine'. Foxgloves are used to this day in modern medicine for people requiring treatment for heart problems.