The Hell-Fire Caves

Church Lane West Wycombe High Wycombe Buckinghamshire HP14 3AH

In the 1740s, when MPs expenses suffered less scrutiny, future Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir Francis Dashwood spent a fortune on this elaborate network of caves on his South Bucks estate. Used for entertaining his high society pals – the Hellfire Club – the actual underground going-ons are pleasingly mysterious, though apparently involved ladies of a 'cheerful, lively disposition'. Past a Gothic church-styled entrance, you enter a series of passages that lead half a mile underground, lit by oil lamps and wax candles. Caves are named after members of the club – one of whom is supposed to haunt the place – and lead across the 'River Styx' (a dank pool) to the Inner Temple. A children's cave halfway in is home to a School of Witchcraft, where kids aged 5–10 can practice flying broomsticks, casting spells and making potions (£7.50). Spooky fun.

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