Go Here… Beer Quarry Caves

May 7, 2024 | Featured Articles, Go Here

Where? Quarry Lane, Off the A3052, Beer, EX12 3AS

When? Open Easter – 31st October

How much? Adults: £11. Children £9.
Families: £35. U5s: Free!

Do I need to book? Booking advised, but not always required.

Contact: 01297 680282 

www.beerquarrycaves.co.uk

Go Here… Beer Quarry Caves

May 7, 2024 | Featured Articles, Go Here

Walk in the footsteps of the Romans who first began carving this network of underground caverns for its special Beer Stone. 

The chalk limestone found here is somewhat unique in that, thanks to its position right on the coast, it benefitted from the sea current flowing across and removing fossiled remains to leave a ‘fine shelly limestone’. This meant the stone ended up with very few fossils, and so Beer Stone was seen as a highly desirable material by stonemasons who praised it for its ease of carving fine and intricate details. 

It’s fascinating to learn how, when exposed to air, it dries up to five times harder, making a durable building material that lasts for centuries.

It’s no surprise then, that this stone soon became famed around the world, used in the construction of some remarkable historic buildings including Exeter Cathedral, Buckfast Abbey, Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London. Outside of the UK, Beer Stone can be found as far afield as the USA, used for Christ Church Cathedral in St Louis, Missouri. 

Locally it can be seen used for the ornate decorations in many of our parish churches – Ottery St Mary, Colyton and in the interior of Haccombe to name a few.

But how was this achieved? That’s for you to find out. 

A friendly, knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide will greet you on arrival and supply you with hard hats, before inviting you down into the entrance cave.

While the chances of banging your head are slim due to the caves being between 13-20ft tall, they offer welcome protection from the drips of water that make their way through the ground above. It’s also recommended to bring a jacket or jumper as the caves stay a consistently cool 7-9 degrees Celsius year-round. Good footwear is also advisable. 

Throughout the tour, meandering through the maze of tunnels, you’ll learn about how the quarrymen worked long, 14-hour days with pick axes and saws under candlelight (harshly having to be purchased from their own pocket), and shown some of the more specialist tools used along the way. 

Our guide was clearly passionate, answering questions with excitement and offering interesting insights. We learnt that, more than just a resource, the caves also served as a place of refuge for Catholics during the English Reformation, with mass being held underground out of sight.

The caves also served as a refuge for smugglers, who hid their contraband inside after landing on the nearby beach, and today continue to offer refuge for horseshoe bats which hibernate here in winter.

Finish your tour with a traditional Devon cream tea from the humble café on site before taking a walk along the coast path or down into the village to see some of the quarrymen’s cottages. 

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