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Were Knights Templar Caves recently discovered in Shropshire?

Posted by Luci Ackers on 27 April 2017
Related property: Upper Norton
Were Knights Templar Caves recently discovered in Shropshire?

Image: Stock image

The Caynton Caves are located a short distance from Caynton Hall in Shifnal, Shropshire. There’s a lot of history and a lot of mystery surrounding the caves because no one is really sure when exactly they were built…

What appears to be a series of unassuming rabbit holes in a farmer’s field is actually a group of entrance holes to a subterranean network of manmade caves and chambers. In March 2017 publicity boomed for the caves, as new photos emerged from photographer Michael Scott. But it was actually long before this that the interesting place first revealed itself to the public.

Just a meter underground there are carved archways and pillars linked by walkways and adorned with a number of little nooks for candles. It resembles Romanesque architecture in appearance and so one widespread theory is that the cave system once belonged to the the Knights Templar, a Christian military order prevalent between the 12th - 14th centuries. It was originally assumed that the caves were built and used as a place of worship by the order, which would place them at approximately 700 years old...

There is, however, still dispute as to the age of the structure and a local legend suggests that it was in fact later followers of the Knights Templar who built the caves and used them for worship and gatherings in the 17th century.

Despite the legends, the most likely theory is that the caves are actually mid-Victorian. Historic England refers to the underground chambers as a grotto and believe it to originate from much later than previous theories have claimed. They place the cave system at late 18th to early 19th century, hundreds of years after the Knights Templar was dissolved.

Possibly located in what was once an old stone quarry, it is generally assumed that work on the cave was carried out by the Legge family, who owned the land surrounding the Caynton Estate. General Arthur Legge, brother to the 4th Earl of Dartmouth, lived at Caynton Hall from the mid 1800s, a time when building follies was particularly fashionable, and it is possible that’s why the underground structure was designed the way it is. During the 19th century neo-Romanesque architecture was becoming popular and this could explain the somewhat archaic architectural style of the underground grotto.

The caves are located about 250 metres to the west of Caynton Hall if you fancy going in search of them.

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Luci Ackers

Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.

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