These houses built into the sandstone rock at Kinver were the last occupied troglodyte dwellings in England. The tiered homes were occupied for more than 200 years.
At their height, it’s likely that as many as 11 families occupied the various cave houses. None of the Holy Austin Rock Houses had running water or electricity, even after these commodities became commonplace in the average household. These fascinating houses were abandoned in the 1960s and were sealed off from the public for many years.
When funds were raised for them to be restored, commencing in 1992, it was a massive and ambitious undertaking due to the disrepair into which the houses had fallen. The National Trust completed the restoration in sections over the years.
There are now two houses open to the public. One represents the Victorian period and the other the 1930s. The detail and attention give visitors an excellent feeling for what it would have been like to live in these surprisingly spacious and cosy rock homes.
There is also a museum and the all-important National Trust tearoom, both also occupying space carved out of the sandstone. The tearoom uses the area that was run as a tearoom by the Reeves family, who lived in the rock houses until the 1930s.
It has been suggested that these rock houses served as the inspiration for Tolkien’s Hobbit holes. Tolkien never confirmed this, but given that he lived in nearby Birmingham and mentioned that he was inspired by much of the Midlands, it seems likely that these unusual houses could have sparked his imagination.
Know Before You Go
Parking for the Rock Houses is in a nearby lay-by on Compton Road. Kinver Edge and the Rock Houses are free for National Trust members. There are several way-marked walks around Kinver Edge, accessible from the Rock Houses. The path to the tearoom and toilets is steep, and may not be suitable for visitors with reduced mobility. There are volunteers on hand to answer any questions that these houses may provoke.