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Hellfire and Brimstone

( Directory of Archaeology and Antiques to the Westminster Spelaeological Group).

This may appear to be a departure from caves and caving, but whilst investigating the cave at West Wycombe, Bucks, which is not particularly interesting, I unearthed an account of the ‘Medmanham Monks’ and followed it up.

Sir Francis Dashwood, Lord le Dispenser, was born in 1700 and at an early age became interested in black magic and Satanism. In 1752 he founded the Hell Fire Club, otherwise known as the ‘Monks of St. Francis’ in the converted ruins of Medmenham Abbey which he had leased from Francis Duffield.

It is said that at Medmenham there was not a vice for which Sir Francis did not make provision. The membership was extensive and Frederick, Prince of Wales was a visitor.

The ‘Monks’ were summed up by one author ‘of all these profligate and satanical fraternities, that coven which had left the most infamous and enduring name is no doubt the sodality known as ‘The Monks of Medmenham’.

In 1762 the Club, which had suffered from publicity and ridicule, ceased to exist and the contents of the chapel were transferred to the mansion of Sir Francis Dashwood at West Wycombe.

The following year Dashwood rebuilt the Church of St. Lawrence which is situated on the summit of the hill overlooking the village.

At the same time, adjacent to the church, was built a mausoleum in which it was intended to bury the members of the Hell Fire Club.

Beneath the hill was excavated a cave running for a length of almost a quarter of a mile. At the end of this passage was dug out a large chamber which is approximately directly beneath the church. Here it is generally believed the Hell Fire Club continued to practise the worship of the devil.

Paul Whitehead, a member of the fraternity, died in August, 1775, and bequeathed his hoard to Sir Francis who deposited it in the mausoleum with great ceremony.

The procession consisted of “….an officer, nine grenadiers, two German flutes, two choristers, two more German flutes, eleven singing men, two French horns, two bassoons, six fifes, and four muffled drums. This was followed by the urn containing the heart which was supported by twelve soldiers. Then came Lord le Despenser as chief mourner, wearing the uniform of the Colonel of the Bucks. Militia, then a Major, a Captain, and seven other officers, two fifes, two drums and twenty soldiers with firelocks reversed. The Dead March was played all the way, with bells tolling, and cannons being discharged every 3½ minutes. An hour was spent in marching round the mausoleum and performing funeral glees. When the ceremony was concluded the soldiers fires three volleys and marched off to a merry tune…..” This was taken from an eyewitness report.

One of the strangest things is that 64 years later, in 1839, the mausoleum was broken into and the heart was stolen and never traced. Lord le Despenser who was Treasurer of the Chambers, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Master of the Wardrobe, and Joint Post Master General, died in 1731 and was himself buried in the mausoleum.

Perhaps a closer inspection of the caves, with particular attention to the two chambers, would be well worth while. Since they are symmetrical there could be some reason, possibly symbolic, to account for the design.

(This article will be published in the July issue of the Journal of the Westminster Speleological Group. Price 2/6).

I am grateful to the W.S.G. for permission to print this article.


Cave at West Wycombe Bucks

Cutting from Daily Express

The Cave Man’s Post.

Madrid, Wed. – Twelve explorers went down 3300 feet to ’s deepest cave near Alcoy. It took them two days. ‘We have camped art the far end of a sloping chamber 159 feet long, and hear a strange whirring noise under our feet’ says a message received from them today – by carrier pigeon.

Reports that one Pete Bird is training bats to open a service between Swildions II and August Hole Boulder Chamber have not been confirmed as yet.



On Saturday, 11th. April, Messr. Roy Bennett and Jack Waddon formerly celebrated their 21st. birthdays in the time-honoured custom on Mendip. Thanks to a truly magnificent effort on the part of Dora Bindon, Maisie Hudd and Beryl Ifold, a gathering of Belfyites were able to sit down to a most sumptuous dinner. Afterwards the party repaired to the Hunter’s Lodge Inn, where liquid refreshment was partaken, and entertainment on guitar and banjo provided by Messrs. Oliver Lloyd and Alfie Collins, accompanied by Jones on a discordant harmonica.

The two instigators of this ‘binge’ wish to express hearty thanks to the three girls who succeeded in making such an excellent culinary achievement, with the limited cooking facilities available.


Query Corner

What was it Mervyn Hannam found to do more interesting than caving when he spent a week in Derbyshire recently?????

Was it mud in Sago’s gumboots?????

Has anyone told Pat Brazier that her Bantam will go much faster under tow by Tony J’s Ariel than under its own steam????

How much is Sett paying Keith Gardner not to print photographic evidence that he is still has the bloom of youth on his cheeks?????


It is noted by Jones’ absence that his ‘Homework’ is still retarding his caving activities.


Some People


When at Nempnett tea I sip,
Telling news and village gossip,
Stalwarts enter with great din,
Bearing packs and hats of tin.
They all come on motor bikes,
Except for one – he rides a trike.
That which follows needs some sorting,
Talk of babies and of courting!
Mention of binder’ and of ‘pots’
And ‘choking squeezes’ quite a lot.
One talks of caves, and in he tucks
A farming reference – ‘mucky ducks’.
They talk of ‘Belfry’ and of ‘belles’,
I think they qualify for Wells.
“But”, they say with great propriety,
“We’re a Speleological Society”.

Additions to the Club Library

Wessex Cave Club Journal No. 39.

Transactions of the C.R.G. Vol. 2. No. 2.

C.R.G. Newsletters for Jan. & Feb. 1953.

W.S.G. Bulletin, April 1953.

Birmingham C. & C.C. Newsletter, April 1955.


Letter to the Editor.

The Castle,
Near Wells
1st March 1953.

The Hut Warden,
c/o the Editor,
Belfry Bulletin.


His Grace desires to make it clear that he is most dissatisfied with the accommodation of a future Belfry as indicated in the recently published extract form the ‘Guide to the Belfry for New Members’.

No mention is made of suitable accommodation for His Grace’s personal attendants. It must be clear that we could not travel without our body-servant and chauffeur and so few servants as this would definitely be regarded as ‘pigging it’, if one may use the vulgar term. Normally, of course, his Grace would also be accompanied by his Masseuse, Butler and Chef as well as by myself.

It is also to be hoped that suitable garaging and hangarage will be available as our Mark VIII Bentley (the new turbine model) could not be left exposed to the weather, nor could the helicopter be left in the park.

We trust you will take note of those matters as we are sure you do not wish to lose our patronage.

Incidentally, His Grace always stubs out his cigars before throwing them on the carpet.

I remain, Sir,

Yours truly,

R.M. Wallis

Private Secretary to

His Grace the Duke of Mendip, Fourteenth Baron Priddy.
K.G.B., C.H., P.C., etc.

Another QUERY????

Who told Jack Waddon it was more comfortable under a bench at Conway Falls than at the N. Wales Hut????


R.J. Bagshaw, Hon. Gen. & Hon, Treas. Sec. 56, Ponsford Road, Bristol. 4.

K. Dobbs, Hon. Assist. Gen. Sec. BB circ. & Printing. 55, Broadfield Road, Bristol. 4.

D.A. Coase Caving Sec. Batsford, Lower Failand, Bristol. 8.

P. Ifold, Climbing Sec.,5. Lydney Palce, Stapleton Road, Bristol. 5.

R. Setterington, Hut Warden, 21, Priorswood Road, Taunton, Somt.

J.W. Ifold, Hon. Librarian, Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol.

M. Jones Sales officer. 12, Milton Crescent, Horfield, Bristo1.7.

T.H. Stanbury, Hon, Editor, B.B. 48, Novers Park Road, Bristol. 4..



Photographic Competition

A photographic competition is to be run by the Club. For further details see next months “BB

Further Additions to the Club Library

W.C.C. Journal No. 38, Feb. 1953.

C.R.G.  Publication No. 4.  A brief Glossary of Welsh Topographic Names for Walkers and Climbers, by Arthur Hill.

‘The Cave Book’, has been lent to the Library by C. Falshaw.

J. Ifold.

Query Corner???????

Who told the Hut Warden, before he went climbing, that it was wet in Tryo’s Crack, and that he would have to wear gum-boots?

Who told Jack Waddon that if he went number two to the Hut Warden he would have time to examine the rock?

Who told Sago that the most economical way to run a Cammy Velo is to have it towed behind Pat Brazier’s Bantam?

Note.  The Editor cannot be held responsible for any opinions expressed in articles other than those under his name, and any opinion expressed in the BB is not necessarily that of the Committee, but only of that member who submits it.

Climbing Section.

Will those interested in a trip to North Wales at Easter, please contact Pat Ifold as soon as possible.

Committee News.

M. Jones has been forced to resign from the Committee.  He says that this is due to ‘Homework’, but there seems to be some doubt amongst members as to what ‘form’ this homework takes.  Never mind, Mike, we wish you thee best of luck with her - sorry, It! Mike will, however, still continue with the sale of helmets, lights, etc.

R. Bennett has been co-opted to the committee in Mike’s place, and any binds regarding tackle or equipment should be directed at him.

The Hon. Sec. and Assist. Ditto have literally turned the first sod in the construction of the new end for the belfry.

News Flash.

It is understood from a usually reliable source that on March 1st. the Hon. Treasurer and his assistant were not levelling the site for the Belfry Extension, but digging for a half-penny, which, according to a rumour started by Tony J. had been dropped near the end of the Belfry.


Is it true that a certain club member is trying to grow a moustache, or is it that a pair of house martins have chosen an unusual prominence under which to build their nest?

 ‘Bird Watcher’.

How did Sago get mud inside his pants and gumboots?


Is it true that certain members intend to grow fresh vegetables on the site of the old detailer?


How to be a Good Member of the Club.

1.                   Do not come to the meetings.

2.                   But if you do, come late.

3.                   If the weather does not suit you, do not think of coming.

4.                   If you do attend a meeting, find fault with the work of the officers and the other members.

5.                   Never accept an office, as it is easier to criticise than to do thins.

6.                   Never the less, get sore if you are not appointed on a Committee, but if you are, don’t attend the Committee meetings.

7.                   If asked by the chairman to give your opinion regarding some important matter, tell him you have nothing to say.  After the meeting tell everyone how things ought to be done.

8.                   Do nothing more than is absolutely necessary, but when other members roll up their sleeves and willingly and unselfishly use their ability to help matters along, howl that the Club is being run by a clique.

9.                   Hold back your subs. as long as possible or do not pay at all.

10.               Do not bother about getting new members.  Let the Sec. do it.

11.               When a Dinner is given, tell everyone that money is being wasted on blowouts which make a big noise and accomplish nothing.

12.               When no Dinners are given, say the Club is dead and needs a tin can tied to it.

13.               If asked to sit at the Committee table, modestly refuse.

14.               If you are not asked: resign from the Club.

15.               Do not tell the Club how it can help you, but if it doesn’t, resign.


As Editor of the BB I should like to print some of the caving songs that are familiar to those of us that (a , cave; (b, used to cave; or (c, hope to cave.  There are quite a number of these, some of which are more or less familiar to ALL, whilst others are local and are only heard when visits are made to other areas.  I believe that Tony J. was once making a collection of such songs, and if he succeeded I shou1d be grateful if he would step into the breach and help me.  At all times source references etc. will be given and also, if possible details of the tune???? to which they should be sung.  I do NOT, repeat, NOT want anything of the type that has reached immortality in ‘Theo-Cons’.

Stanley Gee, Hon. Sec. of the Orpheus caving Club, Northern Group, has started the ball rolling with:-

If it’s Caving you’ll Go.

based on the Climbing Song ‘All for the want of a Nail’, and sung to the tune of "'Abdul, Abulbul Amir’.

Now if it’s Caving you’ll go
There’s a tale you should know
A tale that will turn you quite pale,
For ere to this night he remembers the fright
When his light was beginning to fail.

Now brave boy I knew
Did like most cavers do;
He ventured below in a gale,
But your future ain’t bright
When you look on your light
And find it's beginning to fail.

There was scarcely a grip
For his small finger tip,
And the limestone was wet under nail;
Just a pumping machine
Where his heart should have been
And a light that’s beginning to fail.

He went mad and then madder
On twisting rope ladder
With a 100 foot drop for a sail;
He called it a swine
When he swung on lifeline
And his light was beginning to fail.

At a thousand feet down
Old Satan looked round,
‘There’ll soon be a helmet for sale’,
With just ten feet to go
To the rock bed below
But a light’s beginning to fail.

Then he took to the ground
And he took a look round,
And the thought of it made him go pale.
A thousand feet down
Solid rock all round
And a light that’s beginning to fail.

But this brave boy pulled through
Like all cavers do,
And this is the end of his tale,
But ere to this night
He remembers his fright
When his light was beginning to fail.

As a result of this epic Mike Jones can expect to be inundated with requests for help for lamps, lights, candles, carbide, torches, batteries and glow-worms.


Are you tired of the beautiful caves of mendip?


Holes to let within easy reach of bus route, garage and local hostelry.

Terms: - 1/- per hour per hole.  With tools 2/-.


We have only a limited number at present, but a further supply is expected very soon.





T.H. STANBURY, 48, Novers Park Road, Knowle, Bristol. 4.


The BB is in urgent need of short articles.  There are a number very fine long articles ‘on the shelf’, but those essential short ones are in short supply.  Caving or climbing reports; news of members; poems; short scientific jottings; lists of caving trips; ditto, climbing, are all very acceptable.

I regret that once again I have had to postpone the insertion of Pongo’s article on Colour Photography, but hope to include it next month.  I also regret that I was not able to include the A.G.M. Appendix last month.  As yet the report is still not to hand and I can only repeat my promise of last month: I will print it as soon as I receive it and will include it in the first available BB.

Do you like the BB?  Perhaps you don’t read it as you have found it dull or that your own particular interest isn’t catered for in the way you desire.  Not being a thought reader, I regret that it is impossible to help you UNLESS you write and tell me.  The BB is published for the Club members and they are entitled the maximum amount of interest.  Therefore write to me and tell me what you would like, and, providing I can induce someone to churn them out, you will have what you like, always remembering, too, that many other articles to be printed for lots more members.  Why not try your hand at writing?  There is always room for your article provided that it isn’t libellous, pornographic or otherwise objectionable.  Just jot down your experiences on a bit of paper and send ‘em in, I’ll be only too pleased to sort them out for publication.



I must thank ‘Terribly Frustrated’ for her sweet little letter and will reply to it soon.

Auntie Prudence.

(Ed.’s note; This Auntie Prudence Lark is going to lead to some ‘orrible complications ere long, but She is such a co-operative old lady that I haven’t the heart to chop her. Yet!!)


Is Archaeology dead as far as the B.E.C. is concerned?  Several persons have recently asked if there was any active archaeological work going forward; Well, Is there?  If not why not?  We have in our midst a very prominent archaeologist and a site literally on our doorstep.


Rumours of men with red sand in their hair are spreading.  The F.B.I. are interested in all things red.  Why not a story now that it is no longer a secret?


Colour Photography in Caves

By R.M. (Pongo) Wallis.

Some time ago an article appeared in ‘B.B.’ on the subject of cave photography.  This was intended mainly for the beginner, and so dealt with ordinary black and white photography.  Colour photography is very much more difficult and it would be foolish to experiment with it until one can more or less guarantee a good result in black and white, but it is, to my mind, very much more worth while.  A good monochrome picture can be very good but a colour one is in a different street.

Unfortunately, is more expensive and it does not do to bang off a picture on the least provocation, which is probably a good thing.  There are quite a number of colour films on the market these days but none are cheap.  The least expensive size is of course the 35mm. Kodachrome and Ilford Colour processes are available for these’ miniature workers at 24/1 and 18/6 for 20 exposures respectively.  These are processed by the makers without extra charge directly into transparencies which can be viewed directly or projected.  In the same size there is also ‘Agfacolor’ and ‘Pakolor’ at about the same price, but these are processed (at an extra charge) to a colour negative from which a colour print can be made.  These are gain expensive and these two processes are not for those with shallow purses.  In larger sizes ‘Agfacolor’ and ‘Pakolor’ are again available and also ‘Kultichrome’ and ‘Dufaycolor’ which give transparencies, but not ‘Kodachrome’ or ‘Ilford Colour’ which are only available in the 35mm. size.  The most suitable film in the larger sizes is probably’ Ektachrome’ (which again gives transparencies) but is normally only available as a cut film.  I have used Dufacolor (though without much success) but my main experience has been with Kodachrome and Ilford Colour.  The former is available in a version suitable for artificial light, while the latter, at present, is not, and a correcting filter must be used with it which makes is very slow indeed.  My own experience indicates that Kodachrome is worth the extra money and in any case if all the 20 exposures are taken underground its extra speed will certainly save the 6/1 by using less flash.

The general principles involved as to viewpoints, etc., are just the same as in monochrome.  General views do not seem to be very effective and frequently appear to be lacking in colour.  Closer shots of formations etc. at distances from 3 to 20 feet usually result in a much more effective picture.  It is not necessary to look for colour and even scenes in which there seem very little the photograph often shows that there is in fact, a good deal.

The main trouble likely to be encountered is in estimating the exposure which needs to be very accurate to get the best results.  A variation of half a stop completely alters the result and a greater variation than this will give a worthless picture.  (In monochrome a variation of a whole stop either way will be barely detectable).  Guessing the exposure will very seldom be sufficiently good and even with the most experienced worker is sure to result in some wasted frames.  A set of exposure tables or a simple calculator must be considered essential.  These are simple to make once one knows some accurate figures to start from.  The figures that follow have been proved accurate by practical experience and ca be relied on.  If followed implicitly they will give exposures within the plus or minus half-stop range.  They cannot do better than this as the photographer’s judgement must still play a certain part.  Kodachrome 351 (for ARTIFICIAL LIGHT) AT 2 ALTHOUGH A RATING OF 3 OR 4 IS BETTER.  The exposures given are for Kodachrome; for Ilford Colour they should be increased 3 or 4 times.  In an average cave location with the subject at 12 feet from the flash, use an aperture of f5.6 with a flash of 40 grains of Johnson’s No. 2 powder.  In dark chambers use one stop larger and in very light ones, one stop smaller.  When the distance is doubled or halved use TWO stops larger or smaller.

From these figures a complete calculator or set of tables can be made covering any distance, size of flash etc. the only matter left to the photographer’s judgement is whether the situation is light, dark or average.  This is admittedly not always easy, but if in doubt say ‘average’ and you will be not far wrong.  One should, in fact, think twice before using ‘light’ as except in close-ups or very small well formationed chambers this seldom applies.  Similarly, ‘dark’ should be reserved for very large chamber and places where the walls are mainly unreflecting mud.

Colour film is ‘balanced’ for the type of lighting for which it is to be used.  Artificial light film is intended for ‘photoflood’ lamps by flashpowder gives very good results and the difference in colour rendering due to the flash is not usually noticeable.  Magnesium ribbon should not be used, however, as it usually imparts a blue tinge to everything.  Ordinary flash-bulbs are satisfactory though expensive, but for the best results the ‘yellow-dipped’ variety should be used.  I have not tried using uncorrected Day-light type film, but as the artificial light variety gives good results the former is unlikely to do so.

The fact that colour fill requires accurate exposure means that it will not handle satisfactorily subject with a wide range of lighting contrast.  Accordingly the flash should normally be placed as near the camera as possible in order to avoid shadows.  In places where this is not possible and particularly where the subject matter is at a wide range of distances from the camera, extra flashes should be used to ‘fill in’ the less brightly lit areas.  This technique requires a fair amount of experience to be completely successful but at its best it will give far better pictures of complicated subjects than can be obtained with a single flash.  Note that all the flashes need not be fired simultaneously, but it is best not to include a figure in the picture as the person may find difficulty in staying quite still during the period between the firing of the flashes.  Back-lit subjects can be taken and sometimes are extremely effective but a small fill-in flash is almost always needed as well if a good picture is to result.  As a general rule, this type of lighting requires one stop larger than with plain frontal lighting.  Obviously, the actual flash itself must be hidden from the camera behind a rock or other suitable obstruction.

With regard to the type of camera to use, a box or other cheap one is definitely unsuitable as the lens is not intended for colour work.  The majority of present day cameras however, have colour corrected lenses and are an advantage, as the same result can be achieved with a reasonable quantity of flash.  100 grains need not be considered excessive in colour work and with this limit an f6.3 lens will cope with most subjects up to say 15 or 20 feet.  A much larger lens than this is really needed for the big chambers and a miniature explosion would be needed to get an exposure in the gloom.  There are plenty of cameras, however, between about £15 and $25 with lenses of about f3.5 which will be entirely satisfactory.

I do hope that you will have a shot at what I think is the most interesting part of caving.  If you do you will also become a member of what is a very exclusive band as there are very few who take underground pictures in colour.  If you feel that it is too expensive, bear in mind that once you have bought the film your only further expense is, normally, only the processing charge, and with Kodachrome and Ilford Colour this is included.  In the 35mm size at least the cost is about 1/- per exposure.  With black and white the pictures in the same size the negative is about 1½d. and the smallest enlargement, even if you make it yourself is 2d., while with larger ones or those made professionally the cost is much more, so that if you are often give prints to your friends you may even find that it is cheaper to turn to colour!


Archaeological Notice.

It has recently been suggested that a number of club trips be devoted to sites of great Archaeological interest such as Avebury (Wilts), Maiden Castle (Dorset) etc.  Will anyone interested please contact Keith. Gardner, 22 Wesley Hill, Kingswood, Bristol.  The Maiden Castle trip would be run in conjunction with a coach party from Clevedon Archaeological Society and seat will be reserved for those wishing to travel this way.

Also if anyone is interested in spending part of their holidays excavating, or if they would merely like to visit sites in their holiday area, the Mason-Gardner Archaeological Bureau will be glad to assist.

I hope that this will help to satisfy Archeaocurious but would add that if less noms-de-plume were used, we might get to know who really is interested in getting things going.


Mendip Rescue Organisation

The Annual Meeting of the Mendip Rescue Organisation was held at Bristol University on Sunday March 15th.  At this meeting concern was expressed about the availability of information re, digs in progress or new discoveries.  It was stressed that however efficient the organisation was, the difficulties of effecting a speedy rescue could be considerable due to possible lack of cooperation by cavers themselves.  All Clubs were asked to stress to members that it is essential that someone must know the whereabouts of persons underground, especially those engaged on ‘New’ work.  In the ordinary way, the usual message left at the Belfry or other HQ, or with those at home is of course sufficient, but work on a new series in a known cave or a dig ‘somewhere on Mendip’ would leave the Rescue Wardens with little or no information to work on.  It was suggested that members could co-operate by following one of the courses of action set out below, always remembering to those to whom it is divulged.

a.         Have someone that knows intimately the dig etc., on the surface so that in the event of trouble the Warden and his team could be led direct to the incident.

b.         Inform the Hon. Sec., of what is happening do that he can describe your probable whereabouts to the Warden.

c.         Deposit a sealed envelope (if you don’t trust your Sec.!) with your Hon. Sec., to be opened in an emergency, and. TELL someone that you have done so.

d.         Report to a Warden of your choice when you go underground and also when you return.

T.H. Stanbury
Warden, M.R.O.


In case any member is unfamiliar with the procedure to be followed to call out the M.R.O. it is set out below.


1.                   The person having knowledge of the accident will go to the nearest telephone and ring the Police (Wells Police Tel. is Wells 2197).

2.                   The Police will require the following information:-

a.       Name and address of caller.

b.       Number and situation of telephone.

c.       Nature of accident.

d.       Name of cave.

e.       Position of accident in cave.  (if known).

f.         Number of persons in party.

g.       Whether experienced cavers.

3.                   The informant will remain at the telephone for further instructions.


There are a number of back numbers of the BB available at a cost of 1½. Each from Caxton at 55 Broadfield Road.


I regret that owing to an oversight on my part, I did not include the Hon. Librarian on the list of official in BB67.  ‘Hon. Librarian’ of course, should have been placed after John Ifold’s name on page 4.


I have been told that a certain hole hear the Belfry is about to ‘go’.




The second circular relating to the International Congress in Paris has been received.  The first part on the Convention will take place in Paris from 7th to 11th Sept.  From 13th to 19th Sept. there is a tour to the Limestone areas of the Causses: from 20th to 26th Sept. there is a tour a. of the Pyrenees or b. of the French Alps.



The figures below are of course only provisional and are based on those given in the circular.


Return fare to Paris                                                         £10/ - /-
Accommodation, etc. in Paris                                          £  8/10/-
Membership fee                                                              £  5/ 5/-
Causses Excursion                             £22 to                   £27/ -/-
Alpine or Pyrenean ditto                      £16 to                   £22/ -/-

Total cost therefore will be between £59/ -/ - and £70/ -/ -

Would all those interested please get in touch with the Hon. Sec.  Permits for the extra Cash over and above the recently increased basic allowance should be made to the appropriate authority well in advance of Conference time.



T.H. Stanbury Hon. Editor, 48, Novers Park Road, Bristol. 4.

A.G.M. & Dinner 1953

If a report is received in time it will be included as an Appendix to this issue.  If not, it will be included with the April B.B.


The following books have recently been added to the Library: -

Wessex Cave Club Journal Dec. 1952.
Devon Speleeo Socy. Newsletter No. 30.
British Caver Vol. 23.

Ted Mason has presented the following: -

Archaeological Excavations at Ogof-yr-Esgyrn by B.J. & D. Mason.

Report on Human Remains and Material recovered from the River Axe in the Great Cave of Wookey Hole during Diving operations from October 1947 to January 1949.

Thanks very mush Ted! J.I.

About Bats

By J. Ifold.

Bats are flying mammals of the order Chiroptera.  There are twelve known different species of bats in this country, but less is known about them than any other of our wild mammals; there is a large field of discovery open to anyone who is interested in finding out more about these little creatures.

I am fortunate in having a colony of long-eared bats in the roof of my house; they are in my opinion, the prettiest of all the British bats.  They are greyish brown in colour, and have a wing span of about nine inches.  Their ears, as their name implies, are very long, almost as long as their body, with a small inner ear, called the Tragus, tucked inside.  Their food is mainly flies, moths and other insects, and (Cavers please note) they are the heaviest drinkers of all our bats.

With the help the help of another member of the club I have, since June 1951, marked 19 males, 17 females and 7 babies.  I have had 20 re-finds, making the total handled 63.  A point of interest concerning baby bats is that in 1951 I found a nursing colony on August 22nd.  In 1952 I again found a nursing colony, but this time over a month earlier, on July 20th.  I wonder if anyone else studying bats has found a similar difference in the breeding times in two years?

Anyone who would like to read more about bats, can find plenty of Literature on the subject.  Here are a few examples: -

‘British Bats’ by Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald.

Transactions of the Cave research Group Vol.2.  No. 1.

Cave Science No. 7.

The Devon Speleo. Newsletters often contain articles on bats by J. & W. Hooper.

J. Ifold.

Important Notice to intending Contributors

Articles for publication in the B.B. and all correspondence in connection with the editorial since of the newsletter should be sent to: -

T.H. Stanbury, Hon. Editor.  48, Novers Park Road, Bristol. 4.

I have now moved from 74, Woodleigh Gardens, Whitchurch, and any mail sent to that address may be subject to considerable delay.

Radiocarbon (C14) Dating.

By Yet Another Scientist.

I was very pleased to see in the December and January editions of the B.B. that there are at least two people in the B.E.C. who have interest in matters other than motor-bikes and holes-in-the-ground.  I refer of course to ‘Scientist’s’ article on laboratory dating of radio-active organic archaeological remains, and to ‘Another Scientist’s’ informative bibliography.  It is in order to smooth out a few of the bumps left by S. and A.S., and also to instil interest into other BECites that the following notes have been compiled.

Incidentally, S omitted to mention that the usual way of determining the amount of C14 left in a sample is by measuring the radiation in a delicate counting instrument, and the longer the sample remains under the counter, the more accurate the result will be.

It may well be asked, if we have such a method of dating, why so little is apparently known about dating the Prehistoric Britain.  Apart from the fact that is still virtually an American ‘weapon’, the chief reason would appear to be the difficulty in obtaining suitable samples and conveying them in an uncontaminated state to the laboratory.  The sites in this country where organic material survives, other than bone (which is very liable to contamination when in an unburnt state) and charcoal, are very rare, and when such material is discovered it is obviously of prime importance to preserve it in its physical state.  The preservative (e.g. Poly-vinyl Acetate in Toluol) naturally falsifies any reading taken.  Again, supposing the relic has been packed in cotton-wool or wood-shavings, microscopic particles of these materials may adhere to it and again give a false reading due to their own radio-active discharges.

It should also be quite obvious that this method of dating is more useful in assigning approximate dates to early cultures than giving accurate ones to our later periods which in many cases overlap each other.  Actually, precise dates are not of great importance in Archaeology, the first questions to be answered on my site are: - Period and Culture.  For example - one of the greatest mysteries of British Prehistory, Silbury Hill in Wilts, yielded only organic remains, and measurement of their C14 decay would have given us its date within a few years, but we still would have been no wiser than we are today.  On the other hand, had but one piece of Beaker pottery been discovered in the centre, we could say with certainty that it was contemporaneous with the adjacent temple of Avebury itself.

In conclusion I should like to add the following to A.S.’s bibliography: -

1.                   ‘Dating the Past’ Prof. Zenner.

2.                   ‘American Antiquity’ Vol. 17 No. Pt.2.

3.                   ‘Antiquity’ No. 99 (Sept. ’51) P.145.

4.                   ‘Archaeological dating by Radio-active Carbon’ Prof. Zeuner (Science Progress April ’51 p. 225138).

Yet Another Scientist.


by P.A.E. Stewart.

I have been told about a cave or caves near Luton, presumably in chalk at the village of Totternhoe on O.S. 1” Pop. No. 147.  Grid Ref.  E498 N 222.

They were broken into prior to the 1914-1918 war and were considered very fine.  During the war (1st.) it was thought that spies would hide in them so they were blocked up and the entrance was lost.  However I am enquiring about them to see what can be done.


There is also a story that these caves come out of Dunstable Priory (about 3 miles away) but that, I think is the usual twaddle.  I am expecting to come across the old chestnut about a dog being lost down there and either appearing in the Tigers! den at Whipsnade, or under the counter of some of the local tobacco shops!!

There is also a story about a cave under Church at West Wycombe.  You are charged a nominal sum and are given a candle.  It used to be the haunt of Satanists and has been done up as they used it – or something like that.  I haven’t checked it yet.  All the folks hereabouts have their eyes on the stars.  It’s a bit difficult to get them interested in anything earthy like spelunkering.  The nearest approach is a bod who has a chunk of obsidian his desk.  It looks like a profile of Tryfan without ‘Adam and Eve’.  He gets his desk light to cast odd shadows and blows smoke around it.  Ah me, these mad mountaineers.  I just get a piece of red plasticine and think of the graunches in Lamb Leer.

If anyone has any information on these caves – Totternhoe and West Wycombe, or any other caves in the Chilterns, I would be very pleased to hear from them!


                        (And so would I! Ed.)

The Immortal Statement

By K.C. Dobbs.

Now I’ve heard it said in many places
Where Cavers pause to air their graces.
In pots; in slots; on diving ops;
In caves; near graves; on endless drops;
On bikes; in cars; on mountain hikes;
On rafts (by Jones); on three wheeled trikes#.
In sumps and squeezes, on manual pumps,
And many other lousy dumps.
On dangling ropes; on ladder pitches,
Or by Hon. Treas. who holds our riches.
Go where the Belfry Binder’s© Cooked,
By detailer, where no one looks,
Go in any, every place
Wherein a caver shows his face,
And there and the you’ll hear it said


# For further information see Dan Hasell.

© For the new and uninitiated: -

‘Binder’ ---- a form of stew, eaten during the ‘Olden Days’.  Meat (including at least one dead mouse or frog spawn, according to season.  Ed.) 15 p.c.; Soap 4 p.c., unidentified substance approx. 9 p.c.; Washing up water  to 100 p.c.


Owing to lack of space the article on Cave photography in Colour is held over to next month.


Here is an extract from a letter recently received from Johnny (Menace) Morris: -

 ‘We will always be glad to see any members of the Club when they are in , (but not ‘en masse’).  If there are only two at a time they are welcome to spend the night (we haven’t room for any more).  We have also a very fine pub in the village, by the way’.

Johnny’s address, by the way, is: -

J.V. Morris, The Green, Three Cocks, Brecon.


The Editor would like once more to thank all those who have contributed so nobly to the B.B. in the past.  He is building up a small balance of excellent articles for future issues, but all the same still urgently needs more.  News of caving trips, climbing ditto, anything that interests you interests the club, and unless it is literally unprintable it will arrive in the BB at the appropriate time.





When it doesn’t arrive don’t bind about the organisation, but make sure that (a. we have your current address, and (b.  your sub., is paid).


Here are some ‘Official’ addresses for you: -

R. J. Bagshaw, Hon. Sec. & Hon, Treas,
56, Ponsford Road, Bristol. 4.

K. C. Dobbs, Assist. Hon. Sec. B.B, Circulation and printing,
55. Broadfield Road, Bristol. 4.

D. Coase, Caving Sec., Batsford, Lower Failand, Bristol. 8.

A. Collins, Assist, Caving Sec,

27, Gordon Road, Clifton, Bristol.

P. Ifold, Climbing Sec, and Assistant Librarian,

5. Sydney Place Stapleton Road, Bristol. 5.

R. Setterington, Hut Warden,

21, Priorswood Road, Taunton, Somt,

A, Johnson, Belfry Engineer,

46, The Crescent, Henleaze, Bristol.

C. Coase, Lady Representative,

Address as D. Coase.

M, Jones is co-opted to Committee and will be Tackle Officer.

12, Milton Crescent, Horfield, Bristol.7.

J. Ifold, Leigh House, Nempnett, Chew Stoke, Nr. Bristol.


You, the members of the B.E.C. have voted us, the Committee, in for this year.  But without your co-operation we cannot make this Club a real success.  If you have any suggestions or binds, get in touch with the appropriate committee member, or write to the Hon. Sec., so that the matter can be brought up at the next committee meeting.