|Location:||Reigate, Surrey. In the grounds of Castle Hill.|
MAY to SEP second Saturday of each month 10-16, last tour 15:45.
Barons' Cave: Adults GBP 2, Children (5-18) GBP 1.50, Senior (60+) GBP 1.50, Family GBP 6.
Tunnel Road Caves: Adults GBP 3, Children (5-18) GBP 2, Senior (60+) GBP 2, Family GBP 9.
|Classification:||artificial caves in sandstone.|
Barons' Cave, Castle Grounds: D=30 min.
Tunnel Road Caves: D=35 min.
Barons' Cave: not wheelchair accessible.
Tunnel Road Caves: wheelchair accessible.
Burgess P (1994):
The Barons' Cave - A Guide,
36 pp illus. [pub] Wealden Cavern and Mine Society.
R P Shaw (2001): Reigate Castle Caves, Journal of the BCRA Speleo-history Group No 7 Spring 2001 pp1 - 5, survey, 7 photos.
William Camden (1586): Brittania, (ed Gough 1789) p 168
Peter Burgess (2006): East Surrey Underground 121 pp, many photos, maps, surveys etc. SB no ISBN. Available from the author at 8 Trotton Close, Maidenbower, Crawley, West Sussex, RH10 7JP. Price GBP 9.50 + GBP 1 post and packing.
|Address:||Barons' Cave, Reigate Borough Council (Parks Department), Caberfeigh, 24 Hatchlands Road, Redhill E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|11th cty||caves (probably) built.|
|1823||Reigate Tunnel built.|
|1991||opened to the public by the Wealden Cave and Mine Society.|
Reigate would appear to be a most unusual place to find a series of caves, as it is situated on white sandstone. However, these caves were part of the castle defences. It is reputed that they got the name from the time when the barons met there in conference, prior to the signing of Magna Carta at Runnymede.
There are two entrances, one in what used to be the castle keep, but this has been securely fenced over, and the other at the bottom of the hill, which is where the visitor enters. A passage connects the two entrances, with one cul-de-sac leading off. In parts the passages are 3 meters high, with an arched roof. The walls contain many inscriptions, some going back to the eighteenth century. Local legend has it that there is an underground passage from the castle to the Priory, and to Bletchingley Castle, and indeed they probably were used as a secret tunnel from the castle.
Any part which these caves played in Reigate's history has unfortunately been lost in the mists of time.
Text from: Tony and Anne Oldham (1972): Discovering Caves - A guide to the Show Caves of Britain. With kind permission by Tony Oldham.
The Reigate Caves are today managed by the Wealden Cave & Mine Society, a caving club with little caves, but a wealth of mines and underground quarry workings. The Reigate Caves are two different sites, both located at the Castle Hill in Reigate center.
The Barons' Cave is the oldest and most well known of Reigate's many sand caves, located right below the remains of the old castle. This is the one described in the text above by Tony Oldham. It was the only cave open to the public in the early 1970s, as the road tunnel was still in use.
To the east of the castle hill lies the old Reigate Tunnel. It was used as a road tunnel until the 1970s, but was abandoned as the tunnel was becoming unsafe due to the vibration caused by large lorries. Along the tunnel are more caves, both to the east and the west. The Western Caverns are visited on a 20 minutes guided tour. The cave is well lit and the floor fairly even. The Eastern Caverns may be visited self-guided, it takes about an hour to see this well lit caves. The floor is uneven in places, so they are probably not suitable for elderly people.
All these caves were created as Victorian sand-mines. During Edwardian times they were used for storing wine and beer, during World War I as store for explosives and ammunition. During World War II the caves were converted into air raid shelters for 200 people. And after the war they were used for ARP and civil defence.