Marchamley has been described as a small village, pleasantly situated on elevated ground. The name Marchamley is from the Anglo-Saxon Merchelm’s -leah. Merchelm is a personal name derived from Merce, meaning Mercian. Leah means wood or clearing in the wood. The name Marchamley can therefore be interpreted as meaning Merchelm’s clearing in the wood.
There was a chapel at Marchamley which was subject to Hodnet and, at the time of Domesday, there was a mill and a wood for ‘fattening pigs’.
In the 12th century, tenants, holding Marchamley under the Fitz Alans, took their name from the village. In around 1200, John de Marchamley died and his elder daughter inherited the manor. She sold it to Henry de Audley. With Hawkstone, Marchamley passed to the Hills and was later sold again. In 1841 there were 84 houses and 441 inhabitants. At this time, Viscount Hill was the principal land owner.
In the directory of 1851, local residents include farmers, a shopkeeper, an architect and builder (also a farmer), a police constable and a blacksmith.
Hawkstone was originally a member of Marchamley but by 1185 it was held independently by Roger de Hawkstone. The last direct male descendant of this family died in 1467. His niece inherited the estate and her grandson later sold Hawkstone.
Sir Rowland Hill, who became the first protestant Lord Mayor of London in 1549, bought Hawkstone in 1556. It stayed in this family for 340 years.
Sir Rowland Hill built up a large estate, mostly in Shropshire, having over 1,000 tenants. He was also recorded for his ‘good deeds’: “he didn’t raise rents or take fines from his tenants, was a friend to the widow and father-less, built schools, and repaired highways and bridges”.
At the census of 1841 there were six houses and 60 inhabitants. The directory of 1851 lists under Hawkstone, Viscount Hill, a chaplain, butler, housekeeper, gardener and two farmers, indicating that much of the occupancy related specifically to Hawkstone Hall and far less to independent activities in the area.
The present mansion at Hawkstone was built for Richard Hill and probably had its original building constructed between 1690 and 1700. It was then further developed in the early 1700s and extended again in 1833. The church was added in 1934 by the redemptorist community.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the hall and park were considered one of the principal attractions in England. Today, the Grade I listed landscape that the park occupies attracts thousands of visitors each year. The house is also open to the public for a few weeks each August.