I remember watching the MH episode that featured the Hellfire Caves & thinking what a fantastic place to visit, so steeped in history and intrigue. I won’t bore you with the historic details of the caves. It is a well-known fact that it was Sir Francis Dashwood who created the caves and who was also a founding member of the notorious Hellfire Club. I won’t even go into to much detail of the well-documented ghost of Sukie, the ill-fated barmaid from the George & Dragon Hotel who was lured to the caves by three men who had sent her note claiming to be an admirer wishing to marry her. Poor Sukie in her innocence discovered this to be a hoax. In her fury she attacked the men who fought back & with an unfortunately well placed stone and took poor Sukies life.
No, the main purpose of this report is to, hopefully, inspire those who have never been to the caves to at least go there even if is for the daytime tour as Steven, Chris & myself did on 24th July 2004.
We all arrived together at West Wycombe mid-afternoon; Steven was kind enough to drive us all there. We did have a slight problem with parking as the car park outside the caves is rather small so there is very limited parking.
We decided to drive further up the hill to the car park out side the Church & the Dashwood Mausoleum but it was further up they hill then we anticipated and frankly a lot further then any us were prepared to walk (we’re all getting on a bit you know). So we came back down the hill & found a car park on the opposite side of the road. After a short, slightly uphill walk towards the caves, with Steven pointing out an even steeper option he had taken on a previous visit before realizing there was an easier route, we arrived at the Hellfire Caves.
Chris & myself had never been to the caves before, while Steven had been the few times (the last time being on an organized night vigil with Paranormal Tours the report of which is currently in the diary section). With Steven being somewhat of a celebrity we let him take the lead & he didn’t take too long to claim his celebrity status. As we stood in line for our refreshments & tickets I’m pretty certain I heard Steven say to lady behind the counter ” you may remember me from such DVD’s as the Ghost Haunted Flying Monkey episode” which she did (Chris & I instantly became groupies).
We all paid our £4 entrance fee, which gave us a little token & entrance to the caves for as long as wanted or at least until 5:30 when the caves closed. The entrance to the caves is much like an entrance to a church, very grand, and as you enter the main tunnel there are information signs on both sides giving you the history of the caves. I have to say I took pictures of the signs so I could read them later at my leisure. It was pointed out to be a rather lazy way to learn about the caves but I reasoned I’d waited a long time to be there and wasn’t about to waste any more time reading signs.
We made our way through the tunnels, which are reasonable well lit, unfortunately. There are few little side tunnels however that are darker and if you stand in them for a little bit you do begin to get a real feeling of how frightening the caves would be in complete darkness.
The other unfortunate problems with the daytime tours for the harden paranormal investigator is that there other visitors there too, including noisy children. There is also a voice over that is played over and over again that gives information on the history of the caves. The voiceover is on a permanent loop and there are brief moments of silence between each loop so if you are lucky you can position yourself in the right place and wait for the spaces, this will then enable you to take in the full atmosphere of the caves. This is especially good to do as you stand outside the Inner Temple.
We made our way through the caves, taking pictures and footage on camcorders of each other and also of some very scary mannequins. We entered the Banqueting Hall that has four lovely if somewhat moss covered statues around the sides and continued onto the main attraction the Inner Temple, just the other side of the River Styx. With the gate to The Inner Temple being locked we all took turns staring through the gate trying to entice the monkey into action. We even tried bribing it with chocolate covered biscuits with orange jelly centres but the monkey flatly refused to budge. We finally left the Inner Temple, with Steven slightly sulking due to the inactivity of the monkey and made our slowly back up the tunnels.
At this point during our little tour of the caves I was suddenly overcome by an attack of braveness & decided to go it alone. I kept Steven and Chris within screaming distance and wandered about in my own for a while. This is a good time to mention that since entering the caves I had felt a constant tingling sensation on the back of my head but only on the right side. As we had been making our way through the caves the sensation had increased and decreased in certain areas with it being particularly intense outside the Inner Temple. Steven had told me this often the way spirits can make contact, from behind. I wasn’t sure whether having this information made me feel any better especially as there was one particular tunnel I got the distinct feeling I was being watched. As my bout of bravery faded I rejoined the guys only to find Steven conducting an undercover dowsing session, hiding the pendulum as the other visitors passed by. I believe Steven established contact with a male spirit and then none of us could think of any further questions to ask and we decided it was time to head back up to the daylight.
After leaving the caves (and a quick cuppa), we the headed back up the hill by car to have a walk around the church and also the Dashwood Mausoleum. The church is supposed to represent heaven while the caves represent hell.
Steven told me that there were wire supports around the church that run down from above and go underground to support the roof of the Inner Temple below. This is the sort of information we should really share with each before going 300ft underground with a large amount of dirt and church above. We did have a look around to see if we could find the bolts and Chris cunningly pointed out a large tree stump instead. I pointed out another tree stump to him just so he’d know what they looked like. I stopped pointing them out as Chris did give a rather evil look. We had a quick look round the outside of the Dashwood Mausoleum (you can’t go inside due to large padlocked gates).
We ended the afternoon with a quick drink at The George & Dragon, the pub where poor Sukie worked and is still supposed to haunt, then headed for home.
It was an excellent afternoon out and I thoroughly recommend a visit to the Hellfire Caves to anyone with even a slight interest in the paranormal.
By Samantha J. Styche