The West Wycombe Caves are a series of caves excavated to provide unemployed farm workers with jobs, and chalk to build a main road between Wycombe and High Wycombe.
The caves were excavated between 1740 and 1750 by Sir Francis Dashwood.
It is said that Sir Dashwood held meetings of the notorious “Hellfire Club” in the caves. Made up of prominent members of society, the club had an infamous reputation for orgies, debauchery and devil worship. One of claims is that there were 12 original “brothers” who elected an Abbott eacg tear. The privileged position was held by – among others – Sir Thomas Stapleton and Sir Francis Dashwood. The brothers were given pseudonyms to conceal their actual identities. However, there are differing reports about what actually went on down in the tunnels.
Legend has it that a woman named Sukie, the chamber maid, had gone to meet her lover in the caves, dressed in a white dress but in a cruel practical jokes, she found a group of local lads there instead, and was stoned to death. Her ghost is said to haunt the caves.
The ghosts of other members of the Hellfire Club are rumoured to wander the dark halls.
On one occasion, a girl who was visiting the caves, became separated from her group and carried down one of the tunnels but she became lost and very frightened. Suddenly, the temperature dropped and she felt as if someone was following her. When she turned, she could see a man, in old-fashioned clothing – who vanished as quickly as he showed up.
Many strange sounds and strange echoes have also been reported here.
First broadcast: 20th April 2004