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Some further information on Deneholes

Since the recent article on Deneholes, we have received a letter from Roy Musgrove, of the Chelsea S.S. who writes as follows: -

Yes, people actually read exchange copies of the B.B.  I was interested to see the article in the July issue on the Hangman's Wood Deneholes.  They have been threatened by a road construction scheme.

However, I was disappointed to see no reference in the bibliography to records of the Chelsea Speleological Society, Volume 4, entitled simply 'Deneholes'.  This was written by Harry Pearman, founder member of C.S.S. who is a specialist in the subterranean South East of England.  It describes 73 Denehole sites, discusses their origin, and has a bibliography of 77 items.  It agrees that most were probably dug for chalk.

I enclose some advertising 'blurb' covering all our current publications on S.E. England, which you may like to make available to B.E.C. members, especially the D authors of the article.  How about getting 'Wig' to buy copies for the library?

We'll do better than that, Roy, and publish details of the publications you sent in this B.B. for all B.E.C. members.


Volume IV.


Volume V.



Volume VI.







by Harry Pearman.  Published 1965, reprinted 1970.  72pages 26 illustrations.

by John Henderson, Brian Hillman and Harry Pearman.  Published 1968.  84 pages with 33 illustrations.

by Harry Pearman.  106 pages.


All three volumes are duplicated, quarto.  Volumes IV and V 50p each, while Volume VI is 75p.  Volumes IV and V describe sites of speleological interest South East England. Some sites are natural, being formed by sea or river action.  There are also many disused mines in the area, some many miles in length.

Deneholes are curious excavations which abound in Kent and parts of Essex and comprise a network of chalk-cut chambers entered by vertical shafts.  Some sites are follies, dug as single passages or labyrinths at the whim of a landowner.  Some places are legendary secret passages although their true functions were often less romantic.  There are also a number of cavities which are complete mysteries.

Each volume gives plans and locations of each underground place, relates what is known of its history and explains the position about obtaining access at the time of going to print.  They are unique documents of interest to the geographer, explorer, antiquarian and archaeologist.  Since many of these sites will disappear or be deliberately closed or obliterated, they will also perform a useful function by recording what exists for future researchers or land developers.

Among the places described in Volume VI are the remains of a trial bore for the channel tunnel, which lies hidden in the sea cliffs near Folkestone; the massive underground folly at Eastry, the lengthy subterranean conduit system for Greenwich Palace; the chalk mine which collapsed and destroyed part of Plumstead; the underground forts at Dover the natural caves 100 feet beneath Blackheath and the alleged smugglers' caves at Pegwell Bay.

Enquiries and orders to: Chelsea Speleological Society, c/o 385, Kings Road, London SW10 OLR.