Field Investigations

  • The Hellfire Caves

    Buckinghamshire, England

    The caves at West Wycombe were used as a meeting place in the 1750s-1760s for Sir Francis Dashwood's notorious Hellfire Club, whose members included various politically and socially important 18th-century figures such as William Hogarth, John Wilkes, Thomas Potter and John Montague, 4th Earl of Sandwich. Though not believed to have been a member, Benjamin Franklin was a close friend of Dashwood who visited the caves on more than one occasion.

    According to Horace Walpole, the members' "practice was rigorously pagan: Bacchus and Venus were the deities to whom they almost publicly sacrificed; and the nymphs and the hogsheads that were laid in against the festivals of this new church, sufficiently informed the neighbourhood of the complexion of those hermits."

    Many rumours of black magic, satanic rituals and orgies were in circulation during the life of the club. Dashwood's club meetings often included mock rituals, pornographic materials, much drinking, wenching and banqueting.

    We were fortunate in having the caves to ourselves. The voices in the clips are varied in tonal quality, age and class, all distinctly different to ours. We did not capture any voices that allude to the folklore of the caves but EVP2 and EVP4 are spoken clearly by an educated gentleman, might it possibly be a member of the Hellfire Club?

    EVP 1: Black widow

    EVP 2: the girl's larger

    EVP 3: they are soldiers

    EVP 4: they're mediums, oh look that is strange

    EVP 5: yes we are everywhere, you brought us together

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