Wookey Hole, Somerset
Featured Location Guide
Wookey Hole caves nestles in the Somerset
countryside near Wells. As well as the caves and it's legends there are other
things to see and do at this site including a visited to a Victorian Paper Mill,
where they still make paper by hand today, a cave museum, Dinosaur Valley, Fairy
Garden, Victorian old penny pier arcade with
mirror maze and more.
|In 1914 archaeologist Herbert Balch published his
results of some investigations he had done into human remains which had
been found in the caves. It is believed that earliest man 50,000 years ago
lived within the caves and when the Celtic peoples of the Iron Age moved
into Britain the caves were a safe and comfortable place to live with a
constant temperature of 11 degrees Celsius. By the 15th century only
bones, broken pottery and legends remained.
In 1926 electric light was added so that visitors
could better see the detail of the rock. As well as bringing colour to the
caves it also brought life with Moses algae and bright green ribbons of
hart's tongue ferns began growing, and horseshoe or pipistrelle bats have
made it their home.
There have been many explorations made by
man/divers over the years and in the museum you can see the various pieces
of equipment used particularly that used by Graham Balcombe and Penelope
Powell who over a number of years from 1935 explored from chambers 1 to
Picture showing part of fairy garden and
entrance to Caves
Legends - The Witch of Wookey
In the 18th Century local people said the Witch
of Wookey was an evil old woman who lived in the caves with her dog, and one day
while in the process of casseroling a child a monk who hand entered the cave
sprinkled her with holy water and turned her to stone. There is a Welsh
Legend which says King Arthur slew the black witch "who lived in the
cave at the head of the Stream of Sorrow on the confines of Hell".
In 1912 Herbert Balch found human bones, a dagger and
an alabaster ball amongst some Iron Age Remains (these can be seen at Wells
Museum, in the centre of Wells). But on a visit to the caves you can enter the Witches
Kitchen (chamber 2) and touch the shining stalagmites of the Wookey Hole Witch
and her dog.
The Wookey Hole Paper Mill
|There has been a Mill at Wookey Hole for
centuries, there is mention of one which was used to grind corn in the
Domesday Book of 1086. At some later point it may have been converted to a
fulling mill, which is where woven wool is beaten into broadcloth.
However, by 1610 it had become a papermill, where paper was made by hand,
the clean water of the River Axe, little air pollution and the shelter in
the valley providing good drying breezes made it an ideal site. By the
19th Century machinery was starting to take over however in 1848 a London
Stationer called William Hodgkinson bought it so as to preserve the
tradition of high quality paper for watermarked bank notes and legal
|The Hodgkinson family owned the site
until 1950 and during this time the family built the mill buildings, a
church, houses and school and at it's height it employed around 200
people. In 1976 the mill was revived and today is one of only two handmade
paper mills in Britain. The mill still produces artists paper and souvenir
items, which can be purchased in their gift shop, by mail order, some
quality paper retailers in London, and exports it all over the world.
Visitors can take a tour of the mill and
see the handmaking process of making paper and some even get the chance to
have a go at some of the process themselves, like the children in these
In this museum you will find
displays giving more information about the history of the caves and
various digs which have taken place over time. The caves at Wookey have
provided rich pickings for archaeologists over the years. Workman in 1857
found the remains of prehistoric man, including flint tools and animal
bones. In 1912 they found almost a complete skeleton of an old woman, the
remains of goats and a dagger amongst other Iron Age remains. Many
of these items are now on display in the Cave Museum as well as at Wells
City Museum nearby.
King Kong and Dinosaur Valley
For the children there are
over 20 life-size dinosaurs in the park from Tyrannosaurus Rex to
Stegasaurus. You can wander around the park and here these quite vocal
Your walk back from the
caves takes you through the Fairy Garden, with fairies, dragons and elves.
Flowing through the centre is the River Axe as it emerges from the depths
of the caves into the British sunshine.
The Magical Mirror Maze
Is a modern version of an old mirror show that
would have accompanied a travelling fairground. The mirrors are each 8ft
high and there are over 40 of them and it is made to look more magical
with lights. See if you can find your way around, it is difficult, taxing
and amusing to wonder around. See the many faces of yourself or your
Victorian Pier Penny Arcade
Here you will find the
biggest collection of original Edwardian Penny Arcade machines in the
country, and visitors can play them with real old pennies! You can change
your money at the kiosk, and they will give you a pocketful of old (large)
pennies to use on any of the machines.
New attraction includes the Wookey Hole
Circus Show put on three times a day during the summer months, or just on
weekends at other times.
Allow at least 2 hours for your visit to
complete the tour of the caves, valley and mill. After the cave tour you
can walk around the valley and mill at your leisure and you can leave and
re-enter the mill at anytime during the day on production of your Wookey
Caves and PaperMill, Somerset
2 miles from
Wells of the A371.
Once you have
done the cave tour, you can walk around the valley and mill at your leisure,
re-entering the mill at any time during the day on production of the Wookey
Toilets, Cafe, Restaurant and Shops
Things To Do,
See and Photograph:
magnificent caves, the Paper Mill where visits can watch the making of paper
the traditional way and also have a go, dinosaur valley with 20 life size
model dinosaurs, Victorian penny arcade, mirror maze, the fairy garden in
the valley where there are statues, plants and the River Axe coming out the
caves and making it's way through the valley.
What to take:
Sensible shoes for in the cave as they can be wet
Apr-31 Oct 10am to 5pm; 1 Nov-31 Mar 10am to 4pm.
Closed 25th and 26th December. Open Weekends
and school holidays during December and January
Adults £15; Children £10 (3-14) Under 3yrs
Free; Family £45; Concessions £10
Special Needs Access:
Caves and valley not suitable for disabled
visitors in wheelchairs in the caves (there are over 200 steps) or valley, they can access the Papermill.
Special Needs Facilities:
Disabled toilets in the car park and mill
Concessionary rate for wheelchair users, and one carer
Buggies and small children need to be carried
through caves. Baby changing facilities.
Guide Dogs only
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