Wow. Our half term Halloween week visit to the ‘Witchcraft and Wizardy workshop’ at the Hellfire Caves in Buckinghamshire slayed all my expectations! In all honesty, I really didn’t know what level of organisation and entertainment to expect, but the children and I were literally blown away.
The scene is set apon arrival as you enter through the Iron gates into an incredibly picturesque courtyard. The imposing brickwork looms overhead and creates a real dramatic entrance into the quarter mile network of twisted stone-walled corridors and caverns.
A small cafe and giftshop nestle in the corner and this Halloween week saw small seasonal pop-up tents with interactive activities the kids can play with before they enter the caves.
The caves themselves have an interesting history, starting with a ‘noble’ decision by Sir Francis Dashwood to help unemployment in the area by creating a network of chalk mines to provide work and material for nearby road building. However, rumour has it that Sir Francis favoured it more as a base for what is now known historically as the Hellfire club.
After a little research (that I found super interesting!) the club afforded the rich men and political figures a place to engage in pagan rituals, orgies, and black magic in the mid 1700’s. The club motto was Fais ce que tu voudras (Do what thou wilt) I’ll let you guess the rest… Apparently there are two ghosts both with juicy back stories that haunt the caves you read more about them here
So back to the kids! We dressed up a little for the event, this is not a pre-requisite but most definitely got you in the mood. I’m glad I had flat shoes on as the ground inside the cave is uneven and rather up and down – not to mention it being very ,very dark apart from the odd spotlight (not buggy accessible)
For the togs among you, I had my Sony a7iii on 1.4-2.0 , 1/300 and 4000-5000 iso. Crazy dark – like literally too dark for normal photos dark. Did I say dark? Some people bought torches.
These may not be the best photos in the world, but I was really trying to concentrate on my children, have adult conversation with my friends and watch the INCREDIBLE hosts/actors that lead the children around in front of us.
I don’t wish to give too much of the story away and ruin it for you all. But let me tell you this, out of approximately 15 children, I did not see one child’s attention dropped the entire time.
It was fully immersive and engaging and the hosts/actors were some of the best I have ever seen. I am a keen visitor of Lapland UK who are renowned for their amazing entertainment staff, these hosts were at THAT level. Spellbinding 😉
Age range wise I would say its suitable for between 3 and 11 year olds, although there were a handful younger (babes in arms) and a couple of older siblings. My three are confident little creatures and happily ran into the dark passageways without fear. It is possible to stay with your child and hold their hands, but the majority of children stayed ahead with the hosts in a large group whilst the adults trailed behind.
There were games, spells, races, group potion stirring and one or two things that make you jump a little. Again I won’t ruin it for you!
We are 100% going to go again! Maybe I’ll even drag the husband down to the grown up fright nights they hold here… If I am brave enough!
Check out the Hellfire caves here for more information on their spooky goings-on!
28 October 2019