Hackfall is a beautiful landscape open to all.

Potted History

Please note while we have tried to be as accurate as possible some dates are approximate.

Hackfall is perhaps first mentioned in the Doomsday Book which says “In Torp Gospatric had … Underwood half a leuga in length and four quarentines in breadth”.

Some time after this Grewelthorpe was divided in two with the Knights Templar holding the south end of the village and the North end was held by Roger De Mowbray.

This entry in the Fountains Chartulary for Grewelthorpe is interesting as it appears to assign all of the land of Grewelthorpe including Haggenridyng (possibly the name that Hackfall was derived from) to the people of the village. This is more of a lease than ownership as there is a later entry where Oliver De Buscy grants the rights over this to the Monks of Fountains in exchange for their agreeing to let his body be buried at Fountains Abbey.

GRANT by William son of William de Plumton, knt., for the health of lord Roger de Moubray and for the health of his soul, to Walter the thatcher {cooperatori), Roger de Fetherby, William son of Eva, John son of Walter, Richard the carpenter, of Thorp Malesar’, and all the commonalty of the said vill, free men and others, of all that land with pasture in Notewyth and in Haggenridyng which he had by the gift of the said lord Roger de Moubrey, with all the appurtenances ; to hold to them, their heirs and assigns, and all the commonalty of the said vill, from the grantor, his heirs and assigns, in common pasture for ever, freely, etc., with free entry and exit and all easements, etc.; to use the said pasture for feeding, or otherwise to their profit, as they wish, at all hours and times of the year, without hindrance from him, his heirs or assigns ; for which land and pasture the said men and the commonalty were accustomed to render him sixteen shillings of silver yearly for herbage. Rendering thence yearly to him, his heirs or assigns, one penny at Easter by the hand of the said Walter the thatcher or his heirs or assigns, for the whole commonalty of the said vill, for all customs, exactions, suits of Court or secular demands. Warranty. Sigillum. Test., Dom. Alan de Aldefeld, Dom. Ralph de Midelton, (page 492) Robert de Bel- toft, Nigel de Aldefeld, Gocelin de Brathut, Adam Russel, Herway de Clyfton, and others.

It is said that following the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, which took place between 1536 and 1541, Marmaduke Wyvell of Little Burton purchased a grant of lands and tenures in Grewelthorpe, these included Hackfall.

1614 Hackfall was sold to John Hardcastle by Sir Marmaduke Wyvil Bart There was a common called Banks belonging to Grewelthorpe to the south of the wood probably what appears on the map as “Common Wood”. This may be a section which had been owned by the Knights Templar.

1641 There were quarries in Hackfall wood and a water mill (for flour) at Hackfall.

John Aislabie purchased Hackfall in 1731 from the Hardcastles for £906 it is thought in order to extract timber and stone from the quarries on the Southern edge of the wood for use in Studley Royal.

John Aislabie was Secretary to the Navy 1716 and Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1717-1721. In 1721 he took a bribe worth £20 million in today’s money to persuade the UK Government to sell the national debt to the South Sea Company. When the bubble burst he destroyed evidence of what he had done. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London for a short spell in 1721 and returned to Yorkshire in disgrace.

1738 Felling was in progress it is known that at one time there were 21 men working in the wood under John Pusey.

John Aislabie had a second home in Grosvenor Square in London which he passed on to his son William on his death in 1742.

William Aislabie set about transforming Hackfall into as an ornamental landscape in 1749/1750 and this work continued until around 1767.

1750 At this time there was a lime kiln at Limehouse Hill.

1750 Fisher’s Hall was completed, inscribed on plaque above the door.

1751 The view from Limehouse Hill to Masham church was created by felling trees and digging a ditch..

1752 Grant of a way over a close in the ‘New Road’ to Hackfall. Work on the reservoir above the 40 foot Fails and ‘Alcoves in ye wood’.

1755 Kent’s Seat completed.

1755 Planting and work on a wooden stable at Hackfall it is thought near to Fishers Hall. A path in Common Wood was damaged.

1756 Fountain Pond dug and Rustic Temple completed.

1756 Work on the Coal-pits walk in Common Wood. Also hedges planted around Common Wood. There is some evidence that local people were not happy about Aislabies encroachment and attempted to remove the hedging.

1766 Work started on the Banqueting House at Mowbray Point. The pond at the entrance to the Grewelthorpe Beck valley and wiers had been completed; Fisher’s Hall was used for entertaining guests; Nicholas Dall the landscape artist painted two views of Hackfall.

1768 William Aislabie purchased Fountains Abbey ruins and set about incorporating the Abbey into Studley Royal gardens.

1781 William Aislabie died and Studley Royal and Hackfall then passed to his daughter Elizabeth Allanson on her death it passed to his grand-daughter Elizabeth Sophia Lawrence and the Aislabie line was extinguished in 1845.

Studley along with Hackfall was inherited by Earl de Grey in 1845 and then to his nephew the first Marquis of Ripon in 1859.

1851 The Marquis of Ripon married his cousin Henrietta Vyner of Newby Hall.

The Marquis of Ripon, who was Viceroy of India and Grand Master Mason, extended footpaths during his ownership and as transport became more widely available Hackfall became a popular visitor attraction in the late 1800s

1909 Earl De Grey 2nd Marquis of Ripon inherits the Studley Royal Estate, including Hackfall.

1923 Clare George Vyner bought the Studley Royal Estate, including Hackfall on the death of his cousin, the 2nd Marquis of Ripon.

1933 Hackfall sold to John Green, timber merchant of Silsden. Mature Oaks and Beech trees felled and removed causing major damage to Hackfall’s ecology and severely damaging the foot paths and some of the buildings.  

1933/34 Mature Oaks and Beech trees felled and removed causing major damage to Hackfall’s ecology and severely damaging the foot paths and some of the buildings. 

1938 Major Collins from Bedale purchased Hackfall and gave the villagers permission to collect firewood from the woods.

195? John Kellet of Northallerton purchase Hackfall. (Mentioned in Les Taylor’s memoires.)

1980 Elms in the wood killed by Dutch Elm disease

1987 Four buildings are listed Grade 2 together with Hackfall Farmhouse. The Banqueting House is later upgraded to 2* providing more protection.

1988 Hackfall Trust formed.

1989 Woodlands Trust acquire Hackfall on 999 year lease

1991 Hackfall is registered – Grade I on the English Heritage “Register of Parks and Gardens of Historic Interest”.

1995 Grant from Heritage Lottery Fund used to consolidate Fisher’s Hall and the Rustic Temple.

1999 Landmark Trust purchase the Banqueting House.

2001 Emergency works start to prevent collapse of the Banqueting House at Mowbray Point.

2002 Main work started on the Banqueting House.

2003 Detailed surveys and feasibility studies completed for Hackfall Trust and Woodlands Trust by the Landscape Agency prior to application to Heritage Lottery Fund for a major grant to partially restore Hackfall.

2005 The Banqueting House is completed and the Landmark Trust make it available to holiday let visitors as “The Ruin”.

2007 Heritage Lottery Fund Grant of almost £1 million approved for the partial renovation of Hackfall and it’s buildings..

2008 Main remedial work on paths, views, ponds and buildings completed.