These caves were originally excavated in the 1750's on the site of an ancient quarry by the then Sir Francis Dashwood. It seems that he done the caves in order to provide work for the unemployed farm workers at that time, as there was a succession of harvest failures.
It is thought that his inspiration for the design of the Caves came from his grand tour of Europe and the Ottoman Empire. Once Sir Francis Dashwood returned from his said tour he founded the Hellfire Club and became a leading member of the Dilettanti Society and the Divan Club.
There is a very large banqueting hall in the caves, which actually happens to be available for hire to the paying public for private aprties, even orgies I guess? hehehe. I reckon that this would be the most wonderful place for a VT meeting!
The actual caves go three hundred feet underground and half a mile from the entrance. Plus, the caves actually go right under West Wycombe road and come out underneath the church at the bottom of Castle Street, around three miles away from West Wycombe itself.
March - October
11:00 - 17:30
Saturdays & Sundays
11:00 - 17:30 (or dusk)
Bank Holidays and School Holidays
11:00 - 17:30 (or dusk)
Adults - £4.00 - (£3.00)
Children & OAPs - £3.00 - (£2.00)
(Under 3's) - Free
Families - £12.00
(Price in brackets is group price for 20 or more people - pre booked only)
West Wycombe Ball is the notorious place that was graced with the sordid history of 'The Hell Fire Club'. The witchcraft antics started here in the 17th century, around 1745 by the then Sir Francis Dashwood (1708-1781).
The actual church there is called the 'Church of St lawrence', it was obviously built as a joke, as St Lawrence was/is the patron saint of prostitutes. The Dashwoods still own the mansion to this day, but the West Wycombe Ball, Caves and Mausoleum were sold in 1929 to The National Trust.
The church of St Lawrence stands on top of a hill that is approx 600 feet tall. On the hill used to be an old village, which is no longer there. And before the old village was there, it used to actually be the site of an iron age fort.
The church of St Lawrence had it's tower heightened in the 18th century by Sir Francis Dashwood. I guess it was to make it look much grander and imposing to the local people and passers by, or maybe he was like men with their cars these days, and had to have something to compensate for his little dick, who knows?
The actual Ball sat atop of the church is covered in real Gold. You can walk upto the top of the tower via stairs inside it and you can see over the whole of the Wycombe area from here, not that you'd catch me up there, I dislike heights.
This is the old Graveyard of the St Lawrence Church. The graves are mostly from around the 19th century and there are very many small children's graves here too, a sad sign of the times back then. These graves were for the everyday villagers of West Wycombe, the higher ups, the participants of the Hellfire club and the rich got to be buried in the mausoleum.
Yep, believe it or not? In the Spring of 2002, the Loch Ness Monster came for a Spring break in West Wycombe! Well, he was seen surfing, or should that be surfacing? in a field at the bottom of the West Wycombe Ball.
I have no idea who made this 'monster' from old Tractor and car wheels? but it was really great, especially when the field was actually flooded and he looked like he was surfacing from a lake......
I met these three delightful young ladies on the afternoon that I went to West Wycombe Ball to take these photos.
They were up near the mausoleum and politely said hello to us whilst I was taking the photos, naturally I replied. Then later on, I saw them again at the bottom of the hill near the caves, they asked me if I was a reporter doing a story on West Wycombe? I told them the truth, no, that I was doing it for a site called Virtualtourist on the internet.
I asked them if they wanted their photo taken to go on my page too?, they said yes and proceeded to tell me about a couple that were caught shagging up the local cinema! hahaha:)
My absolute favourite part of West Wycombe has to be the Mausoleum, I just love this place. It is very alluring and it make me imagine loads of images from the olden times of the witchcraft goings on. It sort of reminds me of an old fashioned sitting room moded out of stone.
This is the Monument to the people that lived and frolicked within 'The Hell Fire Club'. The remains of the 'Witches' are buried and remembered here too. Around the back of the Mausoleum are the graves of the everyday people that also resided in West Wycombe.
I just could not believe this when I saw it all, it was like stepping into another time, another place! I felt really excited at seeing this, why had I never been here before, even though it's only a few miles down the road from us?