Thanks to my neighbor David, I just got my mitts on the June 2004 issue of World of Interiors. In the issue, there is an article on the Shell Grotto in Margate, England. The underground grotto's origins remain a mystery. There are some who believe its roots lie in ancient times; in fact, there are shell symbols and patterns on the walls that resemble those used by ancient Hindu, Egyptian, and Zoroastrian civilizations. Others, however, wonder if the shell grotto was a folly created during the Regency era. This debate will continue as carbon dating isn't an option. During the 19th century, the grotto was lit by gas lanterns, thus rendering carbon dating impossible. And by the way, the grotto was discovered in the 1830s by two school children who fell into the grotto while playing in their garden.
The grotto is really quite stunning as almost every surface is decorated with shells- 4.6 million shells, to be exact. Surely this is an estimate; who in the world would and could count all of those shells? An even bigger question for me, though, is how long it took to craft this marvel? Inquiring minds want to know.
This lancet arch leads to the altar chamber.
The altar chamber.
Designs on the altar chamber's walls include the Shield of Dionysus and the Tree of Life.
In this passageway, the designs resemble the lyre of Apollo on top of a flower motif.
Twin passageways lead to a rotunda.
A "sacred ogee" in one of the passageways.
In the entry passageway, you see a three-pointed star, believed to represent a Vishnu turtle.
Etchings on a piece of slate.
All photos from World of Interiors, June 2004; Bill Batten photographer.