Chislehurst Caves (London - England)

Chislehurst caves are man-made caves built in more then a several centuries ago. It's a underground maze of tunnels that covers six hectares of area and 30ft below ground.  The original purpose was to dig out chalk for lime burning and brick making. I should give a head up that most photos in the post are shaken, coz I had to click without flash and without tripod! But anyways, sharing to give an idea of the space.

The only option to explore this is with a guided tour. Also its been preserved well for the last century without any new changes, making the place a historical piece! Infact, so much so that there is no electricity beneath. It is pitch dark and the only source of light beneath is hurricane lamps with oil.
Its a typical cave with uneven grounds and the labyrinth is easy to get lost. The floor is incredibly uneven, so decent shoes (meaning, no heels) would be needed. As soon as you enter, at one point is the map of the labyrinth which mentions the Druid, Roman & Saxon sections. The excavation may have begun in the 12th C (no much evidence of it) and was continued till 20th C. Documented evidence of the cave appear from 18th C.
There is a church excavated for & by the miners. Its a simple depth with a wooden cross placed over a platform. Some wooden benches serve as seating arrangement. This pretty much reminded me of the movie 33! In the 19th C, railway lines were laid here for better transport.
Further ahead at quite a few places, life size dolls have been kept to depict what people would have done over various periods in timeline. A bit ahead is a well, which still has water. Further ahead are some paintings which were done in the 20th C. Caves like these are usually private properties. However during political/social unrest they become government porperties. 




During the 2 world wars, the cave were used as storage for arms & ammunition as well as bunkers for general public. A larger section of the cave was used as a dormitory with bunker beds. A smaller section close to it, was used as a clinic for the people who lived in the caves. A small token amount was collected as fee to stay which served for the upkeeping of the caves. A section of the cave has boilers which provided warmth during the wars!!! The dysfunctional boilers can be seen still and so can the lavatories!


During the 20s the caves were used for mushroom cultivation, thanks to the dark, cold & humid atmosphere inside. In the 60s, this place was used for band practices & music performances. A huge carving here of a Tree of Life was made in late 20th C. 
The best part of the entire tour was when the guide left us for sometime without any lamps. The noises made in this cave echo for quite sometime making even the smallest of sounds seem huge. The guide left us in pitch darkness (oh, yeah, it was pitch dark, the darkest I've ever been in) and went to next section and banged on a metal plank. It definitely echoed so much that it sounded like a bomb dropping!!!

There is also a little puddle of water. In 1985, a challenge was posted to general public to spend a night inside the caves, inspite of the ghost stories & haunted feel that revolved around it! 4 men Dave, Chrin, Duker & Perth spent a Halloween night inside the caves with just candles which did not go very smoothly!!! Are you open to the challenge???

Just outside is a cafe (within the premises) and there are quite a few restaurants in the vicinity. Very close to the cafe are some vintage photographs of the caves incl the mushroom cultivation, flooding of the cave, the jazz performers etc. Also in display are some war collectibles! 

To Get There:

Nearest Railway Station: Chislehurst
PC: Pic 2 of me is by Bala, rest by yours truly!

Dedicated to Venkat, Bala, Conrad, Punith & Suresh

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

22 comments:

  1. I am not sure I want to be in a cave in darkest pitch black. I am not too good about walking in complete darkness.

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  2. That's a great picture of you Bhusha. I think I'll feel suffocated and scared to death in that cave

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  3. Beautiful historical spot in London! Love your photo with the lamp! :D

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  4. I'm not open to that challenge haha. I'm scared of the dark especially when listening to ghost stories being exchanged. That would be a thrilling experience in any case.

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  5. This looks interesting. I want to explore the place, too. I like places that speak of great stories based on history.

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  6. So cool learning about history that I would have never known through your blog!

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  7. The caves can really tell you a lot of stories. It's really great to appreciate the story and history behind the walls of the cave.

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  8. I have been in a Crystal Cave in Ohio. And I have been in one with a waterfall in Tennessee. Both were extraordinary as is this..

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  9. I have been in a Crystal Cave in Ohio. And I have been in one with a waterfall in Tennessee. Both were extraordinary as is this..

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  10. This place is like underground. My first time come across this cave and thanks for sharing it.

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  11. What a wonderful piece of history! I would love to search the caves and search for hidden messages on the walls. The close quarters might be a challenge though.

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  12. I imagined it to be a lot darker! Which is definitely terrifying for a scaredy-cat like me. But it's really nice to be able to tour these caves, there's so much to see other than rock formations and the like. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  13. This must be exciting getting down there. I wonder if i could just get lost in the labyrinth and discover something unlikely ... wohaaa .. my imagination is freaking out.. nice trip and adventure there.

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  14. I was just in London and had no idea about this one. This is definitely going to be on my list of things to do/see the next time I'm there.

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  15. The pitch black moment might have seriously given me panic attacks! Haha. Good thing there's a guide there, and your guys are aware of the paasageway

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  16. This place is beautifully creepy. I would not dare to enter these caves unless am in a big group! But it's thrilling to visit places like this. That lantern shot of yours is so haunting.

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  17. I feel a bit claustrophobic going into caves, so dont go in though they look quite adventurous to me.

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  18. Hurricance lamps more like hurricane branding! You're indeed a wanderlust. I enjoy reading your adventures of life.

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  19. I always love visiting place with history and the stories about the World War always saddens yet amaze me. Will hope to visit this place one day. :)

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  20. Thanks for beautiful description. I am a school teacher. Your writing is like a good teacher's teaching. Kindly give the location map for all the places you have mentioned in the site (google or here)

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  21. From mushroom cultivation to music band performances. Wow, what a history!

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