Chislehurst Caves are a labyrinth of dark mysterious passageways which have been hewn by hand from the chalk, deep beneath Chislehurst. There are over 20 miles of caverns and passageways, dug over a period of 8000 years. The vast complex of caves are a maze of ancient mines originally carved out in the search for flint and chalk. They are divided into three main sections, Saxon, Druid and Roman. Each section was later connected by digging joining passages.
The History of Chislehurst Caves
The presence of chalk has been important to civilisations over thousands of years, and still is to date. Mining chalk provides Lime and Flint. Lime is the basic for plaster and whitewash paint, flint was used for manufacturing tools by early man and later for building. The mining activity is difficult to date however the mines appear on a charter circa 1250 and also in local church records of 1737.
The last time the mines were known to have been worked was around the 1830`s when the Saxon section was used by a flintmaker and limeburner.
The local railway made the mines more accessable in 1865, and this aided its formation as a tourist attraction. The caves also became the setting for several underground concerts in the early 1900`s. During the 1914 World War the mines became part of Woolwich Arsenal, used as an ammunitions depot. A narrow gauge railway was installed to aid the transport through the passages. Up until the outbreak of the Second World War the mines were used by the Kent Mushroom Company.
The war and the constant bombings over London turned the caves into a massive air raid shelter within easy reach from London and its main suburbs.
The Ghosts of Chislehurst Caves
Deep within the caves there is a haunted pool. The ghost of a lady in a white dress is said to be seen floating across the water and it is thought that this lady was murdered by her husband within the caves.
Many noises can be heard within the caves such as laughing which echos from the deeper depths, drilling noises and a horse that can be heard whinnying.