The Caynton Caves: Mysterious system of underground chambers associated with the Knights Templar

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Verica Sitnik
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The Caynton Caves are an underground system of chambers in the ground of Caynton Hall, near Beckbury, England. Their original purpose and the exact date of their construction remains uncertain, but according to some authoritative sources the construction dates from late 18th or early 19th century.

The mysterious underground construction is comprised of an irregular series of columns and chambers in a neo-Romanesque style. The rooms are hollowed out of sandstone and contain a network of walkways.

The caves were probably made in the late 18th century or early 19th century, but their true age remains uncertain. Images credit: Michael Scott. Photo Credit

The walls are curved, and they have niches for candles. Also, the roofs are covered with symbols, as are the pillars. Among the cave passages there is a deep chamber with a stone structure, possibly used to perform ritual ceremonies. They are located 820ft west of Caynton Hall and beneath privately-owned woodland.

Caynton Caves in Shropshire. The walls have niches for candles. Image credit: Michael Scott. Photo Credit

There is a lot of uncertainty regarding their origins, and a lot of theories have been put forward about how they were made, who made them and why. One of the theories has it that the cave chambers were made by quarrying during the mid-19th century.

It is thought that the Legge family, who are the landowners of the site, turned them into a grotto after the quarrying had finished.

A massive network of old underground tunnels. Image credit: Michael Scott. Photo Credit

 

Part of the interior of the grotto. Some ‘night light’ candles have been left lying around, presumably by local youths who camp out there. Photo Credit

There is another theory related to this artificial cave that puts forward the idea that the caverns are older. There have been speculative claims that the chambers are associated with the Knights Templar and date back to at least the 17th century. The legends about the Knight Templars, a Catholic military order founded in the 12th Century, says that they had a lot of secret chambers and rooms so they could meet without being seen or disturbed.

Caynton Caves would have been a perfect place for them to gather. However, according to the historian Dan Jones, there is no evidence the could relate the caves to the Knight Templars. Historic England believes the underground construction dates from the early 19th century.

Underground in the Caynton Hall grotto. There are symbols on the walls and it is thought to have been used for ‘Black Magic’ rituals in the 1980s. Photo Credit

 One of the passageways in the grotto. Litter abounds on the floor, presumably the detritus of parties by local youngsters. Photo Credit

 

Details on the pillars and carvings in the grotto. Image credit: Richard Law. Photo Credit

Jason Kirkham was the one who found the entrance, and the first one to take photos of his visit in 2014. The pictures that he took appeared in many publications, news headlines, and online. However, Caynton Caves are not a recent discovery, but the recent publicity has brought them much attention.

Entrance to the Caynton Caves in the woods just to the west of Caynton Hall which has been owned by the Legge family since the 1850s. Photo Credit

The underground chambers are on private land and they are not open to the public. Still, there is evidence that since the 1980s the chambers have been used for secret ceremonies and rituals. As a result of the “vandalism” to them, their entrance was closed in 2012. In March 2017, the photographer discovered the entrance unblocked and the Caynton Caves received widespread publicity.