The Queen’s Chair – Leek, England

Skillfully hewn out of a boulder and precariously positioned on a cliff edge, the Queen’s Chair favors the brave with a Peak District view fit for a queen.

This solid rock seat is inconspicuously nestled within the Roaches, a wind-carved outcrop of rocks that form a jagged gritstone escarpment within the Peak District National Park. This striking otherworldly crest of rocks along with neighboring Ramshaw Rocks and Hen Cloud mark the southwest tip of the Pennines, a hill and mountain range serving as the backbone of England.

Walkers and climbers alike are beckoned back time and time again by the eerie silence, dramatic landscape, awe-inspiring views and thriving wildlife of this desolate Peak District gem. For many years, a colony of wallabies roamed the Roaches, having been released from a private zoo sometime in the late 1930s or early 1940s. For decades, there have been regular sightings, occasionally captured on camera but it is now thought they may have all died out. Yaks were also released at the same time, but it is believed they died out in the 1950s.

The Queen’s Chair itself was fashioned to honor a royal visit to the area. A stone plaque next to the chair declares “visited by the Prince and Princess of Teck, on August 23rd 1872.” At this time, the Roaches were part of a private estate owned by Sir Phillip Brocklehurst of Swythamley. The wealthy Brocklehursts, having made their fortune in the Macclesfield silk factories, invited the royals to visit. The Prince was a minor German aristocrat and the princess was the mother of the future Queen Mary, wife of George V King of England. Their visit was a lavish affair with the royal couple gracing Sir Philip with their presence at his shooting lodge, Rock Hall, which is located at the foot of the Roaches.

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It is reported that the princess, during the latter ascent to the upper tier of the Roaches, displayed capital mountaineering powers! On reaching her destination, she was able to sit in the Queen’s Chair, take a well-earned rest, and admire the sublime view. The chair had been decked out with cushions especially for the occasion and its surroundings covered with white satin, embroidered with the royal coat of arms.

Originally a cave dwelling, Rock Hall still stands today. It is above this very residence—which you could be forgiven for thinking has been taken straight out of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Hobbiton—that this perfectly preserved chair can be found. For stunning views, the Queen’s Chair is, without doubt, the very best seat in the house. 

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