The Margate Shell Grotto

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The Margate Shell Grotto in Margate, Kent – South East England
In 1835 James Newlove had the intentions of building a duck-pond. While digging his pond, to his surprise, he had broken through the ceiling of one of the most marvelous locations he had ever seen, the Margate Shell Grotto. The grotto was pieced together with over 2000 square feet of mosaic tiling, built purely from sea shells. It is estimated that the grotto contains nearly 4.6 million shells. There is a long subterranean passageway that ends in a square alter room with no known reason as to why it exists. One can only guess that it may have been a meeting room built in secrecy.In 1838 Victorian style gas lamps were placed throughout the grotto and it was opened to the public.


Unfortunately, the use of the lamps blended into the shells making it nearly impossible to find a radiocarbon date for the location, leaving the time of its creation unknown. The grotto could be as old as 3000 years, but there isn’t a way to tell for sure. No one knows who built it, though many believe it may have been done by the Knights Templar. The grotto is still open to the public with electricity to help lighten things up a bit. During WWII a bomb struck nearby, demolishing a portion of the Eastern wall in the alter chamber. Since then, some portions of the grotto have been restored but most of the location is in tact and stands in its original form.

~ William C. Raustler