Last week we visited the Hellfire Caves located in West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Though not as creepy, or as old as the Chislehurst Caves, it was still fascinating to see how this entire tunnel structure was manmade with multiple different chambers, and passages leading to those chambers.
(**There is a trail to the right of the caves, leading to the Dashwood Mausoleum**)
Sir Francis Dashwood hired workers to create the caves, and use the (chalk) material to create a main road between West and High Wycombe. This was done in order to alleviate the high unemployment that was going on at the time (1748, 1749, and 1750) due to unsuccessful harvest. Upon completion of the caves, it was used by Sir Francis Dashwood as a meeting place for his Hellfire Club; the hellfire club was basically just a fancy name (Gentlemen’s Club, anyone?) for exclusive clubs where high society members gathered who had common goals and interests.
So what was it used for you ask? Well no one really knows, but rumor has it that the caves were used for black magic, satanic rituals, and orgies… And as usual with all these historic sites, people believe them to be haunted. Over the years, the hellfire club started to slowly dissolve and eventually did so in 1766. And the caves? Well the caves were eventually disused an stayed that way for over 150 years before being reopened in 1951; it has been available to the public ever since.
So, yup.. that’s the story! We saw statues, informational plaques, and different sized chambers with mannequins. We also saw a surprisingly large number of parents and their kids walking through the caves! (Glad we weren’t the only ones taking our kid into a rumored sex dungeon!) Again, one can only guess what these chambers were used for, since they varied in size quite a bit. Some of the tunnels are narrow and small so tall people (heck, let’s call ’em people of average statue) will have to duck through these passage ways until they reach the chambers, which are surprisingly large considering how small some of the passage ways are.
Overall, it was interesting to see these manmade tunnels, structures, and chambers. And again, I recommend going if you haven’t been before, especially if you enjoy history; it would be great for educational purposes! Now that I’ve seen it though, it’s not exactly the type of tourist attraction I would visit twice, or repeatedly take my children to. Once is definitely enough for me!
If you take the trail to the right before entering the caves, you will end up at the Dashwood Mausoleum, and the church. The Dashwood Mausoleum contains the ashes of the Dashwood Family.
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Price: Adults pay 7.50 pounds per person, while children pay 6 pounds each. Children under three go free. And as usual, no dogs allowed! For more information about the Hellfire Caves, click here!