The Caynton Hall grotto - a Templar feature?!?

From time to time a news item dating from March 2017 surfaces again in the (social) media: the "news" of the discovery of a "700 year old Templar Cave" on the grounds of Caynton Hall, near Beckbury, Shropshire, England. At the time even the BBC claimed "an apparently ordinary rabbit's hole in a farmer's field leads to an underground sanctuary once said to be used by the Knights Templar - a medieval religious order that fought in the Crusades."

The caverns comprise an irregular series of neo-Romanesque ambulatories and chambers hollowed out of red sandstone, with carved archways, pillars, symbols and niches, apparently for candles. They are located about 250 metres west of Caynton Hall, beneath privately-owned woodland, within a disused stone quarry. One suggestion is that they were the result of quarrying during the mid-19th century and were then turned by the landowners, the Legge family, into a grotto or underground folly.

There have been speculative claims that the caverns are older, perhaps dating back at least to the 17th century, and some press articles have associated them with the Knights Templar. However, historian and author Dan Jones considers that there is no evidence linking the caves to the Templars and Historic England dates the grotto as probably late 18th-century or early 19th-century.

As Ashley Cowie summarizes, there are very many more examples of similar but non-Templar "follies", the definition of which is "whimsical or extravagant structures built to serve as a conversation piece, lend interest to a view, commemorate a person or event, etc.: found especially in England in the 18th century."

Cowie quotes the report of the Victorian parish journals at Brereton that in "July 1883, the church choir visited the caves on an outing to Caynton Hall, the home of General Hon. Arthur Charles' Legge (1800-1890)". The article claimed that the cave had been "dug out of solid rock by General Legge himself ", which probably means that he paid workers to do it for him. 

At the same time, the presence of the Knights Templar in Shropshire goes undisputed, as is documented in a post on by Shropshire History. In this post Caynton Cave is described as "allegedly dug in the 17th Century by followers of the Knights Templar in order to have a secret place to worship". As the Order of the Temple was disbanded in 1312 by Pope Clement V, the cave can hardly have been their work.

To conclude this blog, I paraphrasingly quote Cowie's blog when it states that this the story of this "Templar Cave" repeating itself time and again on (social) media most probably is "essentially a sad example of the effects of the collapse of the newspaper print advertising revenue (... leading to) a cut and paste environment where fundamental factual errors spread like a pandemic within hours."

But is this also true for the 2019 report that a possibly medieval sword was found in Caynton Cave 30 years ago? ...

Based mainly on Wikipedia, including the illustrations by Richard Law, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link and other sources referred to in the text. With quotes from the blog "Mysterious Templar Cave is Fake News" by Ashley Cowie, March 9, 2017. Many more photographs of the Cave can be found here.

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