Yesterday we took a visit to a place that has been on my bucket list to see for quite some time – The Shell Grotto.
Located in Margate, Kent, the grotto is an intricate cave structure lined with 4.6 million seashells. The walls are all inlaid with unique and fascinating murals all made of shells. The shapes are purposeful and carry meaning, so it’s easy to see that they’re man-made. It has also over the years been liated as a grade 1 listed building!
Nobody knows who built it or why and it is referred to as one of the most mysterious places to visited in the world.
It was discovered in 1835 by James Newlove and there is two stories to how he discovered it:
The first story claims that James Newlove lowered his son Joshua into a random hole that appeared in the ground when the family was putting in a duck pond. Joshua, who seemingly was not put off by the fact that his father decided to lower him into a strange hole in the earth, emerged with stories about tunnels covered in shells.
A different story comes from Joshua’s sister, Fanny. She claims that Joshua found the grotto on his own while playing. He showed the mysterious place to her and some of their friends, and they used it as a secret clubhouse without telling any adults. When the grotto was officially discovered by the children’s father, the kids had known about it for years.
Even with conflicting information on how it was discovered it still lays a mystery to what it was actually used for.
Some think it could have been a pagan shrine or a pagan temple. Many feel it may have been used by a cult, a secret Society or even a coven of witches.
What we do know is séances most definitely took place here…
As you enter what is called the ‘Alter Room’ there is a picture featured on the wall which shows a séance that had been conducted in the grotto in 1939.
Seeing this picture does make me wonder if these ladies did feel a energy was here. I don’t think a séance would have took place here if these ladies felt that nothing was here, they must have felt something surely ?Admittly when exploring it, it did make me feel a tad uneasy at times. Alot of people who have visited here feel it is a sacred and peaceful place but I do want to say I do wonder if in later years occult practices may have took place here. I feel its original use may have been for cememory and worship but I feel there is a light energy to it but there is also a dark. Obviously that is just my opinion.
Evidence of a Temple and possible date it could date back to.
In 2001, Mick Twyman of the Margate Historical Society also attempted to unravel the enigma. He observed that just before the arrival of each spring equinox, the sun enters the underground realm through a dome with a circular opening that acts like a pinhole camera. As the seasons turn, the ball of light reflected on the temple walls grows larger and continues to move over certain ‘lines’ or bars in the shells, as if with a solar calendar. At midday on the summer solstice, the light resembles an egg that glows in the belly of a mosaic snake. At this point in time, it is reflected up into square apertures built above the grotto’s three distinct passages. The light is then bounced down to shine on what is presumed to be an altar built within the ‘temple’ chamber.
By the use of these phenomena and complex mathematical calculations Twyman was able to show that, allowing for the ‘creep’ of 1% in the Equinox angle that occurs every 72 years, the construction date for the grotto would have been around 1141 AD.
Regardless of why it was constructed, nobody can deny how beautiful it truly is.
Check out our video below of me exploring the grotto.