JOURNEY INTO THE HELLFIRE CAVES

Posted in britain, Buckinghamshire, Celtic, England, film location, leylines, london, moods, mysterious, myths, pagan, photo, photoblog, Photography, quaint, secret societies, strange, supernatural, thriller, tourism, travel, unusual, village, walking, walks, writing on August 10th, 2014 by wabisabipix

Back in the 1970’s when I was a youngster I remember rushing excitedly to the local corner sweetshop to spend my pocket money on Hammer Horror movie bubblegum cards which at the time was all the rage.(http://wp.me/p1ZPuc-2Jx)

It gave a glimpse of risque movies that we were far to young to view and before the days of video and DVD, were not able to see anyhow except on the occasional late night black and white TV showings like “Dracula” and “Curse of the Werewolf”and “Quatermass and the pit”,which sent us running to the bedroom terrified.

Later as we grew up I watched with fascination as a TV series from the same film makers produced called the Hammer House of Horrors (http://www.hammerhouseofhorrortvseries.co.uk/) and looked forward to such horror instalments as “The House That Bled to Death” and”Guardian From The Abyss”.

Later in life I was lucky to meet Christopher Lee in the course of my work in Los Angeles and listened with fascination as this giant in the acting profession recalled prose from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, prior to his role in the film, during an interview in a Los Angeles hotel.

As the years passed I moved to London and rekindled my interest in filming that had taken place over the years.I became aware that many of the film locations from the classic films I had been a fan of were filmed in locations in the areas of Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and the High Wycombe area and I spent some time tracking down a few of these locations. The bulk of these films were made at Bray Studios in Bray,Berkshire, a giant in the film industry that diabolically has now fallen into decline despite the surge in British film making at nearby Shepperton and Pine Wood.Films Such as The Mummy(1959), Alien and The Rocky Horror Picture Show where also made here and it is facing its own horror story of being turned into a care home by developers.(https://www.facebook.com/savebraystudios) Incidentally the location of the Gothic Style hotel in the Rocky Horror Picture Show portrayed as Frankenfurters mansion was indeed the Oakley Court Hotel right across the road from the Bray Studios.(http://www.oakleycourtwindsor.com/) Indeed whole area around these studios supplied the film industry with hundreds of film locations for years and it is quite fascinating to find that a sleepy village where you are quietly munching your cream tea was indeed a film set for a Satanic horror movie chase or the stamping ground of one of the Mummy horrors that unwound on the silver screen. One such location was the Hellfire caverns in the village of West Wycombe,located just off the A40 road.As you approach the village you see a sinister looking Mausoleum perched on the hill overlooking the quaint English village below.The Mausoleum was in fact used as the setting for the 1976 Hammer film “To the Devil a Daughter” starring starring Christopher Lee, Nastaasja Kinski, and Richard Widmark.The nearby Hellfire cavern was probably the influence for the film”Taste the Blood Of Dracula”. West Wycombe and the Hellfire Caverns indeed are one of those places where reality indeed is stranger than fiction. West Wycombe Park, Caves,Mausoleum and St Lawrence’s Church with its mysterious golden globe on the spire were all constructed in the mid-18th century by Sir Francis Dashwood, founder of the Dilettanti Society and co-founder of the notorious Hellfire Club which met at the George and Vulture Inn in London. The Hellfire Club with its club motto, Fais ce que tu voudras ,(do what thou wilt), would certainly have raised eyebrows and the attention of the tabloids,had they existed at the time.It was a secret society in the 18th Century that allegedly included Benjamin Franklin among its many high profile visitors. Dashwood and other high-powered politicians and society members,originally formed a club then known as The Knights of St Francis of Wycombe. They first used Medmenham Abbey, eight miles away from West Wycombe. Later on,the rather more discrete caves were allegedly used for nefarious orgies and black magic that included the presence of female”guests”referred to as nuns. Entering the creepy church like entrance of the caves you wander into the darkness occasionally stumbling across strange carved rock skulls and phallic symbols ,the whole place has a creepy atmosphere that is enhanced by the knowledge that a lot of strange things are alleged to have happened here over the centuries.As you pass through the caverns you enter the Banqueting Hall,the Miner’s Cave and finally, across a subterranean river aptly named the Styx you enter the final cave, the Inner Temple, where the meetings of the Hellfire Club said to have been held.This final cave is said to lie 300 feet directly beneath the church on top of West Wycombe hill. According to Greek mythology, the River Styx separated the mortal world from Hades, and the Inner Temple directly beneath St Lawrence’s Church signifies Heaven and Hell.Indeed it seems that all the landmarks here are linked in a symbolic manner known only to the secret society and one cannot help but suspect that the caves open to the public are only the tip of the iceberg and that there are many more hidden away in this enormous hillside.There are even rumours that members would pass unscrutinised into the caves as the moon rose and night fell via connecting tunnels from the village inn the George and Dragon and that the caves and the Inn are haunted by a servant girl called Suki that walks the corridors and caverns. In all a truly spooky place and a great day out.

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PAINSHILL PARK:HAVING A BLAST WITH THE NAPOLEONIC ASSOCIATION.

Posted in age of elegance, britain, cannon, cavaliers, cool, drama, England, english village, enthusiasts, equine sport, europe, feature, film location, Film set, folk, forts, french, fringe, hussars, legends, london, lumix lx7, moods, muskets, myths, Napoleonic, Napoleonic association, napoleonic wars, nature, news, Nikon, painshill park, photo, photoblog, Photography, photojournalism, re-enactment, redcoats, relax, renactment, road trip, skirmish, surrey, swords, tourism, travel, unusual, vintage, Wales, walking, walks, warhorse, waterloo, writing on May 25th, 2014 by wabisabipix

The May bank holiday on sunday 25th 2014 certainly went off with a bang as the Napoleonic Association of re-enactors http://www.napoleonicassociation.org blitzed the Painshill Park near Cobham in Surrey http://www.painshill.co.uk with the thunder of hooves and the crack of muskets and cannon fire. An incredibly authentic experience of the “age of elegance”,they delve deep into all aspects of the period delivering an enthralling battlefield skirmish and other camp and entertainment experiences along the way. You have to blink twice to remind yourself that we are in fact still in the 21st century and cannot help but feel that these were in fact more elegant times. This group clearly eat,sleep and live this colourful period in history and provide a great insight to onlookers who ever wondered what it would have been like to live in these times. I can still smell those camp fires! Now where did I put that musket!

More images can be viewed at: http://www.surreypix.co.uk/p393250091 Copyright Kerry Davies /All rights reserved.

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Jack in the Green Hastings 2014

Posted in Battle of Hastings, beach, britain, Castles, Celtic, Christians, England, europe, feature, Festival, folk, fringe, gawain and the green knight, green man festival, hastings, Jack in the Green festival Hastings, jack-in-the-green, legends, may, mayday, medieval, myths, nature, news, Nikon, pagan, photo, photoblog, Photography, photojournalism, quaint, relax, retro, road trip, saxons, tourism, travel, Uncategorized, unusual, vintage, Wales, walking, walks, writing on May 6th, 2014 by wabisabipix

As the clock ticked over and the Sun rose over Great Britain on May 5th 2014, blowing away the cobwebs of winter, I revisited the Jack in the Green Festival on the south coast of England most famous for being the gateway for the Norman invasion in 1066.

It was a fantastic warm spring day of Morris Dancers and mayhem and quite a sight for the senses.It was held in a field next to Hastings castle and overlooked the splendid sight of the main town in all its glory.At its centre was a stage where performances of various kinds ranging from Morris dancing to belly dancing entertained the masses that descended upon the seaside town.

It starts with a procession around the town and culminates with the symbolic slaying of the Jack of the Green which symbolically frees the spirit and welcomes the transition of the Winter into the Summer.The tradition has many roots and I have another article on the subject earlier in this blog.

Needless to say,this festival never disappoints and is one of the best Green Man festivals in the UK and well worth a visit.

Here are a few shots shot on a Nikon D700 with a 17-35mm f2.8.

More Images can be viewed from previous years at www.surreypix.co.uk.KD_Green_Man_2014_Copyright_Kerry_Davies_45ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Images Copyright Kerry davies/No unauthorised usage .

 

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Sardines and the legend of Lefi Ganderson the Goat boy

Posted in britain, Celtic, England, english village, Festival, folk, legends, london, lumix lx7, may, mayday, medieval, myths, nature, pagan, photo, photoblog, Photography, quaint, relax, Relics, surrey, tourism, travel, Uncategorized, village, vintage, walking, walks, writing on May 4th, 2014 by wabisabipix

You never know what you will discover during a stroll in the West London area of Kingston,Surbiton and Richmond on May 4th. Today was one of such day. In the quiet town of Surbiton,a popular residential area for commuters working in central London, I was drawn to a large gathering of people in a small quiet park called Claremont Gardens.It transpired that it was the manifestation of the Seething Wells Sardine festival.It’s the second year for this event that celebrates the rich history of freshwater sardine fishing in Surbiton. A chance to remember when Seething was famous for its freshwater sardine fishing industry and held its annual festival to celebrate the first catch of the season.There was much merriment and dancing and live folk bands played at the event,a great gathering of the community.The smell of fresh Sardines filled the air and there were various amusements for the youngsters including face painting and magnetic fish catching,even a large number of fairy wing wearing adults.After several great musical performances the day culminated in the crowning of two members of the community who were designated as this years Seething Wells King and Queen of hats.To much applause last years King and Queen swapped hats with this years chosen nominees.Many of the local community was present and also there were banners representing the various ancient guilds in the area such as the ancient Guilds of Seething-The Cheesemakers, The Talcum Miners, The Taxonomists, The Water- Bearers, The Sardine Fishers and The Curriers and I spotted a Cyclists Guild too.Flying on flags were images of a horned rather legendary looking character who also had a prominent statue at the front of the stage. This was a character which I was not previously familiar with but research revealed to me the surprising legend of Lefi Ganderson the Goat Boy,a local half man,half goat character who had a rather cataclysmic clash with a legendary giant.A tale that probably never pops up on the radar of average Londoner but which just goes to show what interesting legends,many ancient,that lie below the surface of even the most quiet,unassuming of places along the banks of the ancient River Thames.They say that if your tired of London,your tired of life and this is an example that there is clearly always stones that remain unturned revealing interesting legends along the way.A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon in the spring sunshine. Picture Copyright  Kerry Davies The Seething Wells Sardine Festival.Lefi Ganderson The Goat Boy
Picture Copyright  Kerry Davies The Seething Wells Sardine Festival.

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The new King and Queen of hats. Image   Fresh Sardines served to order. Image   For more on the legend of Lefi Ganderson see this excellent portrayal of the tale here:

 

Pictures Copyright Kerry Davies

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