I don’t watch Downton Abbey, but if it were set inside houses like these, I think I probably would! Welcome to Holy Austin Rock in Staffordshire, England. These medieval cave houses carved from sandstone were abandoned by the last residents in the 1960s, but people were living happily inside them for over three centuries before that, possibly even earlier.
The first official records of the Rock Houses appears in an 18th century book with a very long-winded tite, ‘Letters on the Beauties of Hagley, Envil and The Leasowes with critical remarks and Observations on the Modern Taste in Gardening‘ by Joseph Healey. In the book, Joseph gets caught in a thunderstorm when he finds the cave homes and asks to take shelter. He describes the homes as well-furnished, ”curious, warm and commodious and the garden extremely pretty”. Joseph also notes that the residents had access to water and were extremely welcoming, and proud of their homes, delighted even to recount the stories of their ancestors who had built them.
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