RogerBW's Blog

West Wycombe Caves 03 May 2018

The West Wycombe Caves are quite local to me, just on the other side of High Wycombe, and a guest felt like seeing them. They have some historical interest.

They're also known as the Hellfire Caves, because after the chalk for the high road had been dug out, they were used by Francis Dashwood for meetings of the second Hell-fire Club (as was Medmenham Abbey, nearby).

Admission is by remarkably generic-looking token. (Both sides are the same.)

Whitewashed, spacious entranceway.

Steward's Cave, wages and tool storage during the excavation.

Lighting is irregular at best.

Whitehead's Chamber; Paul Whitehead was one of the stewards of the Club. (This is not his urn; that's in the Mausoleum at the top of the hill, but given the rain we didn't visit.)

Random decoration, with faces all over the place.

Properly Gothic arches.

Franklin's Cave. (Dashwood was Postmaster General of Great Britain; Franklin was Deputy Postmaster for North America. Of course he was involved.)

The Banqueting Hall. Statues pinched from Italy.

More fine detail.

Some of the putative ghosts. (They let Most Haunted in. Hey ho.)

The "River Styx", originally crossed by boat. (By the end of the 1700s one could cross by stepping stones, and now the water is some feet below the path.)

The "Inner Temple". Nobody actually has the slightest idea what happened in this terminal cave, but they don't let that stop their imaginations.

More of the caves can be seen via Google Street View.

  1. Posted by Michael Cule at 12:23pm on 03 May 2018

    Gosh, they've gussied it up since I was there...

    I couldn't resist using it as a scene setting for my LAUNDRY FILES campaign. And the borough cemetery is, I'm sure you'll be glad to know, quite teeming with ghouls.

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