Ah, the fine feeling of venturing beneath several thousand tons of rock. If the Victoria Line still doesn’t give you that surge of subterranean wonder, jump on the train to Chislehurst Caves in Kent. There, you can take a step underground, and back in time.
This sprawling maze of tunnels occupies the area of six rugby fields, but these caves aren’t down to Mother Nature’s shady ways. Instead, they were excavated by human hands over many centuries, mining the earth for chalk and flint. Records go all the way back to 1250, although some believe the earliest tunnels may even date back to Roman times.
With over a thousand years of history, all sorts of paranormal goings-on have been recorded here. And it’s hard to imagine a place in London more befitting of conspiracy theories, hauntings, and strange lore. I mean, just look at it… it’s awe-inspiring and terrifying in equal measure.
But seriously, has anything ever looked more like it 110% played host to a satanic ritual of some sort? You won’t be sure if the goosebumps running along your skin have come from the cold cave air or the creepy caverns themselves.
Chislehurst Caves’ recent history
Less bone-chillingly, in (relatively) recent years the caves have been used as an ammunition store, mushroom farm, and deep-level bomb shelter during World War 2. Back then, it became home to as many as 15,000 civilians seeking refuge from the Blitz. Several (slightly old-fashioned!) dioramas depict how the various parts of the cave were used during this period, from a hospital to a cavern used for church services.
Well ahead of the pop-up trend, the caves were also used as a concert venue during the 1960s. Legendary acts such as the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie all played shows here. It seems a shame this hasn’t carried on until the present day, to be honest. Imagine attending a heavy metal concert here! For now, all that remains is an empty stage in memory of the rock’n’roll that once rang through the complex.
Naturally, they’re keen to prevent any additional hauntings at Chislehurst Caves, so entrance is only permitted by taking part in a guided tour. Or else you run the risk of becoming lost in the caves for all eternity… The tours last around 45 minutes and depart hourly, from 10am – 4pm. But you get your own lantern, just in case…
There is also a café and a gift shop on-site. And you can even hire the space out for events – I wonder how many requests they get around Halloween?
Please note, due to the cave system’s uneven floor, it may be difficult to navigate for pushchair or wheelchair users.