The Shell Grotto

Margate, Kent

THE SHELL GROTTO, WHERE YOU’LL FIND 4.6MILLION SHELLS, 70FT OF WINDING UNDERGROUND PASSAGES LEADING TO A RECTANGULAR CHAMBER, 2000SQFT OF MOSAIC AND ONE BIG MYSTERY...

 

The story goes that in 1835 Mr James Newlove lowered his young son Joshua into a hole in the ground that had appeared during the digging of a duck pond. Joshua emerged describing tunnels covered with shells.

 

He had discovered the Shell Grotto, its walls decorated with strange symbols mosaiced in millions of shells. Is it an ancient pagan temple? A meeting place for some secret cult? Nobody can explain who built this amazing place, or why, but since its accidental discovery visitors from all over the world have been intrigued by the beautiful mosaic and the unsolved mystery.

Since the first paying customers descended the chalk stairway debate has raged about the Grotto’s origins: for every expert who believes it to be an ancient temple, there’s someone else convinced it was the meeting place for a secret sect; for every ardent pagan, there’s a Regency folly-monger ready to spoil their fun. At first glance the Grotto’s design only adds to the confusion, with humble cockles, whelks, mussels and oysters creating a swirling profusion of patterns and symbols.