18 January 2012
Chislehurst caves isn’t quite what it says it is. It’s actually 20 miles or so of chalk mines, excavated way back in Roman times. It’s history according to its website incorporates Saxon, Druid and Roman times, I’m always surprised that it doesn’t get more of a fanfare from historical organisations and the like, because I thought it was one of the cool things about my home town. That, and apparently the fact that Siouxsie and the Banshees grew up there.
It houses a chapel of sorts and supposedly someone’s burial site, but this could be elaborate marketing on the part of the tourist guides. I’ve been on a visit a couple of times and to be honest, its history really comes alive with the right sort of guide, who are all voluntary and a bit geeky about their tunnels. Get a good one and you’ll hear really spooky stories made all the more dramatic with the use of the oil lamps you’re made to carry. They don’t allow you to take torches.
It was used during the first world war as an ammunitions area and in 1945 as a hospital and an air-raid shelter. More recently it’s been used as a venue for some dubious “heavy metal bands” and famously for Dr Who episodes – which apparently gets fans in droves.
I’m reluctant to take my small children yet, as its not for the faint hearted – I’m still getting over the ghost story of a woman wandering lost in the tunnels. Who knows if its real or not, it made for a good tale. However, they’re really good fun for anyone over eight with a healthy imagination. That said not so good for those in heels or with mobility issues.
Finally they’re a stones throw away from Chislehurst Station, just by the Bickley Arms pub. That was another scene from my youth. For another entry.
Post by our lovely guest blogger mustgetoutmore.
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