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The Mystery Tunnels Under Frome.

By Mike Wilson

 
I recently discovered an article that had been written 2 years ago featuring the network of tunnels underneath the town of Frome. Not a great deal is known about them, and they appear to have lain untouched for many years. There are legends associated with the tunnels but a recently formed group of people [the Frome tunnel team] are hoping to explore the system and its age and purpose.

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Note on the map arrows show direction where survey runs out.

The tunnels seem to be approximately 20 ft below the surface, a standard size 4ft wide and 5ft high well made in brick and arched. Flooring is generally brick or flagstones. It would appear that they connect some of the pubs and inns plus all of the main churches; it is thought that they are Medieval in date!! Frome is surrounded by spring wells, the main one is by St Johns Church the water runs down Cheap St, which is a feature of the town.

Some tunnels link up with deep well shafts in Catherine St and Broadway, suggesting that they may have been a medieval water supply system. The Ship Inn at Badcox top of Catherine hill has a stone block with a glass top covering a deep 49 ft well within this well there are entrances to the system one at 20ft and one at 30ft.4 tunnels run under the Griffin Inn in Milk St and there is a concealed entrance blocked off in the cellar, there used to be dozens such entrances! Many tunnels in the centre of town radiate out in many directions towards local villages. Longleat, Clay hill, Corsley, Champanslade and Mells are a few examples. It is rumoured that you could walk from Trinity to St Johns and beyond. This network must have taken considerable time and a huge effort to construct, yet we have no idea what purpose it served.

At this moment in time there has been no modern underground survey carried out or a total mapping of the system, this is due to lack of money and interest. Perhaps the BEC could take up the challenge!!! Dowsing has been used as a method of tracing the water courses a man called Don Reeves being the dowser, an accompanying map shows the results so far bearing in mind that some houses have had the tunnel sections bricked up.

One long tunnel has many branches which in turn branch again, this tunnel goes down Weymouth St into the ship inn public house there is a branch off here to Badcox but the main route is on down Catherine’s Hill into Catherine St, thence on to the Griffin in milk St from there it runs to Trinity Church. Follow the main course under Shepherds Barton steps under Paul St and Palmer St thence under the old Bath Arms pub crossing Bath St and Gentle St then on under St Johns graveyard along Vicarage St crossing Christchurch east and then on towards lock hill.

Other features talked of within the system are underground rooms, a cavern under the print works complete with a lake, and possibly a space under the town centre.

In 2004 the BBC made a documentary about the Frome Time Tunnel Team on Inside Out this was broadcast in 2005. Since then an Elizabethan icehouse has been found in the cellars of the Fountain Pub. The work goes on but sadly I cannot find a recent update. The main team members Robin Hill and Pete Clark are hoping to get some funding together and press on with this interesting project.

Mike Wilson.
Source: Wayne Cornish the Somerset Standard.