Last edited 30 Nov 2020

Holy Austin rock houses

Set in sandstone below Kinver Edge, the Holy Austin rock houses were inhabited until the 1960s. They have been restored and are owned by the National Trust. cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Graham Hogg -

[edit] Introduction

Also referred to as troglodyte dwellings, the Holy Austin rock houses are located in Kinver, England. Carved into the 250-million-year old sandstone cliff, these tiered cave homes were inhabited for more than 400 years.

Although the dwellings may go back to the early 17th century, the first recorded occupant was Joseph Heely, who lived in one of the rock houses in 1777. The softness of the sandstone made it easy to create new rooms. By 1860, 11 houses had been carved into Holy Austin to provide homes for 44 people.

There are other rock houses on Kinver Edge, including:

[edit] Rise and fall of the rock houses

In addition to the rock houses, a tearoom was established for visitors who wished to enjoy the countryside. The cafe operated until 1967, even after the occupants had moved away. Once the cafe closed, the homes fell into disrepair. Vandalism and nature combined to destroy the properties until the Natural Trust took over ownership in the 1990s.

Restoration work began in 1993, and one of the upper houses was restored as a family home based on photographs through the course of time. The original gardens were also found and restored.

This photo the rock houses for troglodytes before their restoration.

The second phase of restoration work began in 1996 on the lower level. This home had its own ‘ballroom’ according to photographic evidence and once belonged to a family that had been the subject of a painting by Alfred Rushton. Details in the painting were also used to help complete the project. The rock house is now decorated in the style of a Victorian home.

The rock houses are open to tourists.

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