Day to Day => Follies & Oddities => Topic started by: Guest on June 26, 2010, 22:06:34

Title: Shell Grotto - Margate
Post by: Guest on June 26, 2010, 22:06:34
The Shell Grotto was discovered in 1835 by Mr James Newlove. He had been digging a pond when a hole appeared in the ground. Mr Newlove lowered his son Joshua down into it, and when he emerged again he told his father there were tunnels covered with shells. Two years later in 1837 he opened them to the public. The Grotto is 70 feet of winding passages leading to an oblong chamber. There is believed to be 4.6 million shells used in the different mosaics on the walls. Nothing is known about the Grotto prior to Mr Newlove finding it. One theory is the Mosaic symbolism represents a journey from birth, through life to death, and ending up in the celestial afterlife.
Title: Re: Shell Grotto - Margate
Post by: Leofwine on June 27, 2010, 19:02:46
It's amazing that something like that could be built and then 'lost'.  Has anyone ever looked into how old it may be (studying plaster/glue types used to hold the shells in place, artistic styles, etc)?

I didn't even know that it existed before I saw this post!
Title: Re: Shell Grotto - Margate
Post by: Guest on June 28, 2010, 11:13:23
The Grotto is located in Grotto Hill, off Dane Road. it's only a brief walk from the Harbour.

In the part of the grotto they call the Altar Chamber is a more modern wall, behind it is another entrance and wall which was destroyed by a bomb in WWII.
Title: Re: Shell Grotto - Margate
Post by: Biggles on July 14, 2010, 14:49:22
A lot of what has been written about the grotto is based on the idea that there is 'hidden meaning' in the patterns of shells. Much of this stuff is pretty tenuous.
There is a modern write up on the grotto and nearby Margate Caves [closed in 2004 due to 'elf and safety] at www.kentarchaeology.ac/acontents.html 
Title: Re: Shell Grotto - Margate
Post by: Biggles on July 16, 2010, 16:39:22
It basically says the caves were dug for chalk for agriculture of lime burning - probably late 17th to early 18th cent and then made into a show cave.
Title: Re: Shell Grotto - Margate
Post by: Chatham_Girl85 on January 05, 2012, 21:00:34
Anyone see Meridian Tonight?

It mentioned that Shell Grotto had recieved a grant, I think it was 15,000, from English National Heritage :)
Title: Re: Shell Grotto - Margate
Post by: LenP on January 05, 2012, 23:40:29
Thanks for that Chatham Girl85, I just watched it.
I visited this last summer and I urge anyone who hasn't been there to go and have a look. It's not very big but upon entering the tunnel my jaw just dropped! It is amazing, even now. Marie Corelli, a popular pre First War author called it 'the Eighth Wonder of the World' and I can see why.
Title: Re: Shell Grotto - Margate
Post by: conan on January 06, 2012, 13:35:14
I read somewhere that the brown staining in the grotto was caused by fumes from Victorian gas lighting.It must have been a lot more impressive before with all the natural bright colours of the shells showing.
Title: Re: Shell Grotto - Margate
Post by: Mike S on January 07, 2012, 00:07:22
Back in the early 1950's I was friendly with the daughter of the then owners of the Grotto (the Mitchell's) and can remember quite clearly playing in the Grotto garden and there was a place where you could peer down and look at the people who were down in the cave.
Title: Re: Shell Grotto - Margate
Post by: silkenrobe on April 01, 2012, 15:08:04
Thanks for that Chatham Girl85, I just watched it.
I visited this last summer and I urge anyone who hasn't been there to go and have a look. It's not very big but upon entering the tunnel my jaw just dropped! It is amazing, even now. Marie Corelli, a popular pre First War author called it 'the Eighth Wonder of the World' and I can see why.

I visited here some years ago and was also had a jaw dropping moment
You can't imagine it really, can you?

http://shellgrotto.co.uk/
Title: Re: Shell Grotto - Margate
Post by: kyn on July 17, 2017, 19:36:15
Cliveh and I visited the Shell Grotto in Margate at the weekend.  It is an awesome sight!
Title: Re: Shell Grotto - Margate
Post by: kyn on July 17, 2017, 19:47:58
The tunnel leading down really takes your breath away.  But when you reach the Altar Room you realise how much time must have been put into decorating the tunnels!
Title: Re: Shell Grotto - Margate
Post by: kyn on July 17, 2017, 19:51:58
In WWII one wall in the Altar Room was blown out.  Beside this is an old door way.
Title: Re: Shell Grotto - Margate
Post by: Lyn L on July 17, 2017, 20:05:55
Another place I never went to while living in Ramsgate and Broadstairs from age 1 to 14 yrs ? How strange . Great pics of the shell grotto and the Ramsgate tunnels.  :)
Title: Re: Shell Grotto - Margate
Post by: kyn on July 17, 2017, 20:06:52
If you ever find yourself down this way these are a real treat :)