It’s impossible to know exactly how the site, now run as Hawkwood College, would have looked through the ages. At the time William Capel inherited it – just one of a family line who lived in the house for centuries – it was known as The Grove and occupied its beautiful position as part of a substantial estate. During the 17th century the house was owned by a family called Mayo, and when their surviving heir was a girl, Hester, who married one Samuel Capel in 1700 and bought out her sisters’ shares in the estate, the family name changed but the genetic line continued. It’s unclear who built the Jacobean manor house but traces of medieval stonework have turned up which indicate an earlier origin for the site. I’d always understood that there was a monastery (or more likely, a small religious cell) there at one time, but so far no evidence has been found to support this. Other than the occasional psychic impressions of visitors, who have been known to ‘see’ cowled figures mooching about the grounds, even when they didn’t have any previous knowledge of the monastery story….
…Hawkwood remains an incredibly special place. As well as its education programme it provides a venue for all kinds of creative and spiritual groups, and was the scene of Gareth Knight’s legendary ritual workshops during the 1980s. The Gareth Knight Group was founded in its dining room in 1973, and still meets at Hawkwood today. And if you’re among those who encounter one of the strange presences that are occasionally seen or heard in the upper rooms and corridors of the house, don’t be alarmed, just remember that it’s a place where the walls are full of magic….