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Holy Grail Found? The Mystery of the Hawkstone Chalice

Is it possible that the Holy Grail has already been discovered and is now known as the the Hawkstone Chalice. Some researchers are convinced that this is the cup that was used to catch the blood of Christ during the crucifixion.



Hawkstone Chalice or Hawkstone Grail
Artists impression of the Hawkstone Chalice including its missing lid. For actual images of the Chalice please view the website of the author Graham Phillips

The Mystery of the Hawkstone Chalice

In the legendary scenery of North Shropshire, England, at the heart of the historical Hawkstone Park, an object bound up with both legend and riddle was discovered — the Hawkstone Chalice – a prime contender for the actual Holy Grail.

Whereas the Holy Grail in the Last Supper story is a widely known symbolic object, not many people realise that this small and carefully sculpted alabaster cup has also become part of the centuries-old legend and may even be the real thing. Some believe that this exquisite Hawkstone Chalice might, in fact, be the vessel used by Mary Magdalene to preserve the blood of Jesus Christ during his crucifixion or after His Resurrection.

The Hawkstone Grail story blends old traditions with an intriguing deviation. It explores new territory, offering a possible connection with one of the most mysterious of Christian figures, Mary Magdalene. This fresh and exciting new twist to the Grail legend could make people reconsider their original beliefs.

Hawkstone Park

Hawkstone Park, one of the most enchanting places in Shropshire, was originally the location of a defensive castle that Henry de Audley had built in 1227. The land surrounding the Red Castle changed hands over the years, but during the 18th century, it was acquired by Sir Rowland Hill, who began transforming the landscape with trails and follies. His son, Sir Richard Hill, continued this work. Even two centuries ago, this unique and romantic park attracted numerous tourists. However, the estate was eventually bought and broken up in 1875. The walks and folly were mostly forgotten. So it was significant and fascinating when, in 1990, parts of this rural amusement park could be re-opened to the public.

Hawkstone Grail - Cave Entrance

The cliff entrance to the Hawkstone grotto and caves where the Hawkstone Chalice was original discovered. (C) Imperidox.

Discovery of the Hawkstone Grail

During the 1990s, British researcher Graham Phillips discovered a historical relic that may be one of the two original cups that inspired the legend of the Holy Grail. This relic was a small green stone cup of possible Roman origin that had been kept in a box in the loft of a house in Rugby, Warwickshire. It was examined at the British Museum and identified as a Roman scent or cosmetic jar.

After seven years of investigations, Phillips had tracked down this “relic” and unearthed substantial evidence linking this small green cup to the Grail legend. Specifically, Phillips found that the current owner’s great-grandfather, Walter Langham, had originally discovered this cup inside the base of a statue in a cave at Hawkstone Park.  During the 1920s, Langham had been trying to move some sculptures in the grotto and accidentally made the discovery when the small stone cup fell out of a secret compartment within the base of the Eagle statue.  Phillips would eventually discover that it had been hidden there by the antiquarian Thomas Wright.

Hawkstone Chalice - Eagle Statue

The remains of the Eagle statue where Thomas Wright hid the Hawkstone Chalice. (C) Imperidox.

How did the Hawkstone Chalice (Grail) get to Britain?

Two theories are based on legends and records linked to the Fitz Warine family.

The first is that it was brought to Britain by an Empress (more likely a noblewoman) during the Roman occupation and passed down from family to family until it came into the possession of the Fitz Warine family.  This would be a very plausible explanation for a simple scent jar,

The second, and far more interesting,  is that after the crucifixion, the cup used to collect Christ’s blood was kept by the surviving disciples and eventually hidden in a collection of tombs and tunnels under the original temple of King Solomon.  During the Crusades, when the area was excavated by the Knights Templar, the Hawkstone Chalice was identified for what it was and taken into the possession of the holy order.

Legend has it that sometime between 1240 and 1250 AD, it was taken to Whittington Castle by a Templar relative of Faulks Fitz Warine and hidden in the chapel – the white stone in the white castle of white town.

Whittington Castle home of the Holy Grail

Whittington Castle (C) Imperidox – The White Castle where the Holy Grail was kept.

In 1312, under pressure from King Philip IV of France, who couldn’t pay the Knights the money he owed them, Pope Clement V issued the order to officially disband, disgrace and oppress the Templars. Many members of this once-powerful holy order assumed new identities and sought refuge in Britain with associates and relatives to escape the widespread persecution they faced across Europe. The surviving Templars confirmed what had long been suspected regarding the chalice.

The chalice was eventually passed down to the Antiquarian Thomas Wright, a descendant of the family on his mother’s side, who had actually claimed to have the Holy Grail in his possession.

Hiding the Holy ‘Magdalene’ Grail as the Hawkstone Chalice

At some point, Thomas Wright hid the grail in the local countryside. He left behind a series of cryptic clues in a poem titled “Sir Gawain and the Red Knight” to guide others to its location, hidden inside one of four statues he commissioned for the grotto caves of Hawkstone Park.

Hawkstone Chalice - Lion Statue

(C) Imperidox. The Lion Statue at Hawkstone Park – one of four commissioned by Thomas Wright

It was these clues that Phillips followed and eventually discovered that Walter Langham had accidentally gotten there before him and kept the chalice as a curio. By tracking down Langham’s descendants, Phillips eventually found the grail.

The Grotto Caves of Hawkstone Park

Grotto Caves at Hawkstone Park have a long history, potentially dating back to the 5th century when they may have been used as a copper mine. Over time, the caves were elaborately decorated and became part of the landscape gardens and follies.

Hawkstone Park - The Grotto Cave

The interior of the grotto caves at Hawkstone park, Shropshire. (C) Imperidox.

Today, they remain an intricate cave system of coiling tunnels cut through sandstone. The windows would originally have been glazed with coloured stained glass, the walls lined with shells and fossils, and sections of turquoise smelting slag from nearby Coalbrookdale. Most of those decorations have gone and vanished during WWII, but the grotto has not lost its allure. Ranging in size from passageways less than a meter wide up to open spaces over 10 metres across and boasting everything from carved arches and tree trunks to the faces of people on walls before you reach each bend or turn, there is always something new.

What Exactly is the Holy Grail?

This is not an easy question to answer.  The most popular explanation is that it is the cup used by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper and later used to catch his blood during the crucifixion. Others believe it is a book, a stone or even the lost Crown of Thorns.  Dan Brown’s book, The Da Vinci Code, proposes that it is actually the bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

In the case of the Hawkstone Grail, it is likely that there were two chalices. The first was the cup used at the Last Supper, and the second was a much smaller chalice hidden in Mary Magdalene’s robes and used to catch the blood as it fell during the Crucifixion.  This would actually make a lot of sense. There is a significant time period between the use of the Last Supper chalice and the crucifixion.  Furthermore, the goblets were not the disciples to take, and why would they have taken these to the garden of Gethsemane?  It makes far more sense that Mary Magdalene used the only container available to her – a small Roman cosmetic scent jar.

It is worth noting that the Holy Grail is often depicted as a magnificent gold and roman glass chalice. However, the reality is that most tableware used by even the modestly wealthy would have been a form of terracotta pottery.  Very wealthy roman citizens may have had silverware and glass for exceptional occasions.

Roman Wine Bowl - Holy Grail

Roman Wine Bowl – Holy Grail (C) Imperidox

There is no certainty that the hosts of the last supper were wealthy or that the water carrier the disciples followed was the owner of the room. The Holy Grail of the last supper was more likely a Roman wine bowl than a golden chalice but there is no certainty either way.

References & Sources:

  • The Shropshire Star 2015
  • Arthuriana © 2007 Scriptorium Press / Sir Tarquin and The Holy Grail at Hawkstone Park
  • The Knights Templar – History and Myths of The legendary Military Order (Sean Martin. ISBN: 978-1-84243-563-2)

Recommended Reading:

  • Graham Phillips (The Search for the Grail. Century, 1995. ISBN 978-0-7126-7533-8.)
  • Graham Phillips (The Marian Conspiracy. Sidgwick & Jackson, 2000. ISBN 978-0-283-06341-1.)