Gypsy's Travels

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Travels With Em - "Chislehurst Caves"

We headed out of London proper on the train today. Went all the way to the Chislehurst Caves on a series of underground and rail connections. Supposedly associated with Druids, murders, and other atrocities, we discovered the story is not nearly so sordid nor ancient. No Druids, No Romans, No known murders. More importantly, it served as an air raid shelter and temporary home to 15,000 people during the war. You had to pay your way.

A gas mask for baby.

Food was rationed. This was a week's ration for ONE person.

Healthcare was difficult.
Vignettes of past life provide some idea of the circumstances the people endured.

It is totally black inside except for light brought in. We were given kerosene lanterns to carry with us - one for every 2-4 persons. Sanitary facilities were primitive at best when the masses first arrived. They had individual receptacles which were emptied into centrally located barrels, which were then carried out, sloshing, by wagon. The men had to be at work early in the morning, so children HAD to be quiet by an early hour.The caves were actually miles and miles of man-made tunnels which had been mined for chalk from the late 1800's. They were used to grow mushrooms in the 1920' and 30's,

storage for ammunition during the war, hosted bands and dancing in the 1970's. Now they are a tourist attraction. This was one time Em followed me closely and held on tightly to my backpack strap.

All cave guides get great delight in turning out the lights so everyone can get a real sense of the dark. Ours was no exception. He added sound effects which must have been like hearing bomb raid during the war. It was a moment's insight into what the people must have gone through.
More recently, an artist was granted leave to carve a design area. I wonder if one day theat information will be lost and someone will claim that the Mayans were there. It might be difficult to make that claim since the atist put some contemporary items in the design.


  1. I'm sure this trip will be something Em. will remember all of her life and maybe take her Gkd's on such an adventure.

  2. Would love to see the photos!

  3. Aren't caves interesting!?

    Happy blogoversary!

  4. Are you still in the caves? Lost?

  5. I'm with Uncle Dan. Where are the new posts?! I heard through the grapevine you made it back :)


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