Ask a question about 'St. Clements Caves'
Start a new discussion about 'St. Clements Caves'
Answer questions from other users
St. Clements Caves
are located on the West Hill in Hastings
Hastings is a town and borough in the county of East Sussex on the south coast of England. The town is located east of the county town of Lewes and south east of London, and has an estimated population of 86,900....
, East Sussex
East Sussex is a county in South East England. It is bordered by the counties of Kent, Surrey and West Sussex, and to the south by the English Channel.-History:...
. The caves were named after a nearby parish church and are now part of a tourist attraction which tells the story of smuggling on the South Coast of England 200 years ago.
The earliest written reference about the caves was about an old man and woman who were discharged from the town workhouse for misbehaviour and who lived in the caves from 1783. The couple lived at the bottom of 'Monks Walk', a 140 feet (44 metres) long tunnel which is now the start of the cave tour.
In the 1820s, the caves were rediscovered by a local grocer named Joseph Golding. He was cutting a garden seat into the side of the cliff when he broke through to the vast cavern. They became a tourist attraction in 1864 and were visited by the Prince and Princess of Wales. In 1873 the caves received another royal visit from Prince Albert and Prince George Frederick.
In 1940 the caves became an air raid shelter and a temporary home for up to 600 people. Even once when the West Hill received a direct hit from a bomb, the caves remained undamaged.
Modern tourist attraction
On 25 March 1989, St Clements Caves re-opened as the Smugglers Adventure, a centre for the history of smuggling on the south coast of England. Dozens of life-sized figures, dramatic lighting, eerie sounds and a few surprises bring the romantic yet often bloody heyday of smuggling to life. In 1998 the caves re-opened after a major refit, which introduced fictional smuggler 'Hairy Jack' who now guides visitors round the caves, along with new displays, hands-on features and interactive activities. The Ballroom is now a converted gift shop and main entrance to the attraction.