Haunted Caves – Hellfire Caves
The Hellfire caves have definitely earned their name and reputation. Said to be home to at least two apparitions, they have also been the stomping grounds for one of the most scandalous gentlemen’s clubs in all of England. This is where, for years, the members of the Hellfire club would meet and carry on their secret meetings.
The ghost of Sukie the bride is said to roam in these dark caverns. Whether she is searching for her lover, or for those that killed her, nobody knows for certain. What is known about the ghost bride is her sad life story.
Sukie was a girl who worked in the nearby town. When Sukie was of age to be married, she turned her attention away from all the local young men and set her sights on marrying someone in the upper class.
Sukie did eventually find a man, but the local young men were jealous and felt that they needed to teach her a lesson. One day they sent Sukie a note, on behave of her fiance, saying that he wanted to meet with her later that night in the caves beneath the old abbey. Sukie was to go there by herself and was to be wearing her wedding dress. Somewhat mystified but excited, Sukie arrived at the caves at the appointed time only to discover that she had, in fact, been duped.
The only people at the caves were Sukie and three of the local lads which laughed at the humiliated young woman. In retaliation, the story says that Sukie threw a rock at one of the lads. Things then quickly got out of hand, and they began tossing rocks back at Sukie. Unfortunately, Sukie was hit on the head and, as a result, died in the caves wearing her wedding dress.
Today Sukie is often seen in the Hellfire Caves by numerous visitors. People who have seen the apparition say she appears to be lost and forlorn as she slowly wanders through the dark chambers.
Hell Fire Caves – Various Paranormal Phenomena
The other resident ghost said to be in the caves is Paul Whitehead. In life, Paul was one of the original members of the Hellfire Club.
In the early part of the 1700’s, Sir Francis Dashwood, the 15th Baron le Despencer, leased a parcel of land just outside of London near the small town of West Wycombe. Features of the land included the old Madmenham Abbey and the caves. The entrance to caves was very close to the abbey. In fact, portions of the caves actually run right beneath the old structure.
In 1740, the local farmers had experienced a number of bad harvests, and they needed work. The Area was also experiencing a small building boom due to few of the gentry building estates in the area. To help alleviate the farmers economic situation, and to provide materials for the necessary road building, Sir Francis opened the caves to chalk excavation. The work within the caves continued until almost 1750.
When the excavation did cease, it is said that, Sir Francis moved the location of his secret club to the cave’s depths. The Sir Francis club, which during its day, went by a number of different names, had been meeting in the old abbey. Shortly after moving to the caves, the club was named the Hellfire club.
All of the original 12 members of the club were men. Many of the men had political aspirations, and it would not have been in their best interest to be seen doing anything that might offend members of polite society. To counter the many restrictions placed upon them, they formed the Hellfire club.
The club whose motto was “Do what you will“ certainly tried to live up to this. It is said that drinking and orgies were not uncommon events at these gatherings. Members called each other brothers and wore hoods and cloaks to keep their identity concealed from the locals.
Paul Whitehead was not only a member of the club, but was also its steward and secretary. Upon his death, he requested that his heart be placed in an urn in the old abbey. The rest of his body was to be buried on consecrated church ground some miles away.
As per his request, his heart was placed in an urn and remained in the abbey for about fifty years. In 1829 the heart disappeared. It is rumored that the heart was actually stolen out of the abbey by an Austrian.
Paul’s ghost is said to have been seen by numerous people in the caverns. He appears as a gentleman with a beard and a mustache wearing out dated clothes. His movements are said to be those of one who is searching. Many believe that the ghost of Paul has returned and will continue to roam the caves until his missing heart is found.
Hell Fire Caves – Man’s Face in Wall
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