Solve the mystery of Margate’s Shell Grotto

Margate, Kent

Explore atmospheric underground passages, marvel at walls covered with millions of shells, can you solve the mystery of the grotto?

Local legend says Margate’s Shell Grotto was discovered by chance over180 years ago, when in 1835 Mr James Newlove lowered his young son Joshua into a hole in the ground that had appeared during the digging of a duck pond. Joshua emerged describing tunnels covered with shells.

Its origins remain unexplained today. In this remarkable subterranean enclave, winding tunnels snake beside 2000 sq ft of magnificent symbol mosaics, made out of cockle, whelk, mussel and oyster shells. Nobody can explain who built this amazing place, or why, but since its accidental discovery visitors from all over the world have been intrigued by the beautiful mosaic and the unsolved mystery. Is it a pagan temple or a meeting place for some secret cult?

Content provided by Thanet District Council Tourism Unit

Read more Close

Refine your search:

Shell Grotto MargateShell Grotto Margate © Thanet Tourism
Shell Grotto MargateShell Grotto Margate © Thanet Tourism
Little girl looking up at the Shell Grotto, MargateLittle girl looking up at the Shell Grotto, Margate
View of Margate harbourDiscover more of Margate including Turner Contemporary and the Old Town

VisitEngland would like to invite you to take part in a short survey about our website, it should take no more than a couple of minutes.

Go to the survey

To add items to favourites …

… you need to be logged in.

If you already have an account, log in.

Or register a

Access your account

Enter your e-mail address or username.
Enter the password that accompanies your e-mail.
Forgot your password? Recover your account
Don't have an account? Register an account