Lord Rowland Hill

Lord Hill

Lord Rowland Hill was born near Hawkstone in 1772. He became Shrewsbury’s most distinguished soldier.

At the battle of Waterloo he fought alongside the Duke of Wellington commanding the first company.

18th June 2015 marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.

It was because of this and his valour in other military campaigns that he was honoured by Parliament.

Today his statue sits atop the column outside Shropshire County Councils offices in Shrewsbury.

He was an enigmatic figure and he was universally liked by the soldiers under his command. He became known as ‘Daddy Hill’ by the troops who respected his kindness.

During the later stages of the Peninsular war he again fought alongside Wellington as his second in command.

Sir Rowland Hill’s career is linked closely to both the Duke of Wellington and Sir Thomas Graham whom he met during the siege of Toulon and the older man appreciated the talents the 21-year-old Hill had displayed.

Graham formed his own regiment and he asked Hill to be his colonel and Hill commanded it in Egypt. A later brigade command followed in Hannover.

Hill began his Peninsular Campaign at Rolica and Vimiero. He took part in campaigns at Corunna and Oporto and played a vital defensive role at Talavera.

Hill was one of the few officers that Wellington trusted enough to give a separate command to. However Hill was unfortunately stricken with malaria before his force fought at Albuera and had to hand it over to Sir William Beresford.

Once Wellington returned, he protected Wellingtons right flank at Badajoz and later destroyed a French force at Arroyo de Molinos.

This attack was so successful that he only suffered 65 casualties to the French’s 1300 killed, wounded and captured.

In 1812 Hill rose to the rank of General and was often used by Wellington as an independent guard on his flank, but again he showed his fighting abilities at Vitoria, Souraren and St. Pierre. At the later he soundly defeated a larger French army under Marshal Soult.

In 1814 Hill was given a peerage and when Napolean Bonaparte’s returned to Paris from Elba Hill journeyed to Holland to assist the Dutch building their army.

Whilst fighting during the 100 days campaign, Hill narrowly missed being killed towards the end of the battle of Waterloo.

Hill remained in France for three years as second-in-command of the Allied occupation troops.

When he retired, Hill remained out of the public eye for 10 years but he returned to it when he was asked by Wellington, the then Prime Minister, to be the head of the army.

Just before his death in 1842 he was made Viscount Hill.

He is buried in the churchyard at Hadnall church.

Key places to visit in Shropshire connected to Lord Hill:

Lord Hill's Column, Shrewsbury

It was built during the period the Battle of Waterloo took place by the people of Shrewsbury (first stones laid in 1814, completed 1816) as a permanent representation of their joy at the conclusion of the Napoleonic Wars, with the ultimate honour and recognition bestowed upon Hill with his statue at the top. Friends of Lord Hill's Column and Shropshire Council are working towards the creation of a new statue of Hill, which it is hoped will be in place by 2016 to mark the 200th anniversary of its creation.

Hawkstone Park Follies

The Follies would have been included as part of the overall Hawkstone estate during Hill's lifetime. The monument featured as a central part of the victory celebrations held for Waterloo, when it was illuminated and the scene of fireworks.

Hawkstone Hall

A grade I listed building. Built between 1700 and 1725 by Sir Richard Hill, Hill's uncle. A place regularly attended by Hill especially for glittering reunions, which were also attended by the Duke of Wellington. It is said to have been the venue for an Eve of Battle Ball in the days in advance of Waterloo. The Hall's house and gardens will be open from 14 - 31 August 2015 to members of the public.

Hawkstone Park Hotel

The hotel was built during the period of the Napoleonic wars by Hill as a place to entertain his family and friends - with the original building having been extended. It is understood that the trees on the now golf course were laid out by Hill to replicate the position that his troops took in the Battle of Waterloo.

Hadnall Church

The final resting place for Hill, but also an important place for the family as a whole. The family's coat of arms is seen in one of the stained glass windows.

Shropshire Regimental Museum, Shrewsbury

  • The museum holds a number of key pieces relating to Hill including a portrait painted by his sister in 1820, in which Hill is seen wearing all 23 of his regimental medals.
  • The museum also holds Hill's seal and campaign cutlery and the box in which it was held.

Click here for a PDF about activities, events and places to visit in Shropshire connected with Lord Hill and the wider Waterloo/Napoleonic Wars story.