This article appeared in the Summer 1967 (Issue #8) edition of the Kent Archaeological Review.
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Volume Four of the Records of the Chelsea Speleological Society -- Compiled by Harry Pearman.
In September 1912, Mr R Trull of Hextable was picking apples when he heard a rumble beneath him. Looking down, he was alarmed to see that a seemingly bottomless pit had opened beneath him, and his ladder was resting on a single tree root, one inch in diameter. Gingerly he climbed down to safety.
In 1881 a Mr Glossop was gathering nuts in Griff's Wood when he stepped back into an open shaft, and was only discovered by chance some three days later. He died afterwards from his injuries.
William Lambarde, writing in 1570, commented upon some shafts near Crayford, expressed wonder as to their origin, and added,
"Besides that many beasts have tumbled into some of these; it happened that a late Noble person, following his Hawke, not without great peril of his life, to fall into one of them, that was at least twelve fathoms deep".
It will be seen then that the presence of some curious underground phenomena has impressed itself upon the notice of the inhabitants of Kent over the centuries. Bold fellows have climbed down these shafts and brought back tales of huge chambers in the chalk beneath. In time a name was given to all of these openings -- 'deneholes'. Antiquarians and archaeologists have nearly come to blows over their origin, date, use and the name itself. It has been asserted that they are natural, that they were dug in ancient (or modern) times to obtain chalk, that they were underground dwellings of 'aborigines' and so on.
CSS members have visited all known shafts and located quite a few unknown ones. All the details are published here together with first class maps and plans to enable the reader to visit the open shafts and decide about them for himself. In addition there is a complete bibliography, maps showing the distribution of open and closed shafts, a discussion of all the theories of origin and a great deal of historical information.
The publication is quarto, duplicated, with 72 pages and 26 pages of illustrations.
Price to members 5 shillings.
Price to non-members 6 shillings.
Add for carriage and packing: 1 copy -- 11 pence, 2 copies -- 1 shilling 2 pence, 3 copies -- 1 shilling 6 pence.
Please send your name address and remittance to:
H Pearman, 48, Kenton Street, Fulham, London, S.W.6.