In between our trots through Hawkwood and Pets Wood we popped into Chislehurst Caves. It wasn’t too scary to start with, but as we walked further it got darker and darker and although it was interesting and fascinating to be there I couldn’t wait to get out!
I get a little claustrophobic being underground for a long time, who wouldn’t! Especially when you are in a labyrinth… left in complete darkness… have I mentioned the place is haunted?
The caves at Chislehurst
Before the tour Charlie and I shared one of these lanterns. This was the only source of light.
The caves at Chislehurst are a 22 mile long man made labyrinth, covering over 6 Hectares and is about 30 meters below the woodlands. Scared? You should be! Imagine getting lots there… yikes! We only walked 1 mile though (thank God!)
Fascinating guided tour through the caves
The guide was lovely (you wouldn’t want anyone weird going down there) and told us that the caves were carved first by Druids (who may have conducted blood sacrifices), then Romans and finally Saxons. Smuggling and murders took place in the caves, hence the haunting!
The caves were first opened in 1900 as a showplace, it was also used for mushroom growing in the 1920’s and 30’s. It also became an underground town, the largest deep air-raid shelter outside London, protecting more than 15000 people every night during the Blitz.
The caves during the war
We came across lots of interesting things in the caves, like this little church for the people hiding in the caves during the WWII.
And also found out that people also had to pay to enter the caves. Business as usual.
The caves were divided into pitches and every pitch had a number. If a person living in a pitch didn’t return for 4 days, he was considered dead and the pitch was given to another person/family.
There was only one recorded birth in the caves during WWII. The girl was given the nickname Cavina.
Chislehurst Caves in the 1950’s, 60’s & 70’s
In the 1950’s, 60’s & 70’s the caves were used as a venue for dances and concerts. David Bowie, Status Quo, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd all performed there.
The caves also appeared in the BBC programme Doctor Who from 1972 (The Mutants). You can still see the glitter on the wall.
Carvings in the Chislehurst Caves
While on the tour we also came across the carving done by Sandy Brown in 1995.
We had a fantastic tour and really recommend visiting, great place!