Find out more about Dorking’s Mysteries

Dorking’s secret underworld

Caves Mystery Chamber
Photo courtesy of Sam Dawson

The whole length of Dorking High Street has a hidden underworld of tunnels and chambers beneath many of the shops and pubs.  These are man-made caves, cut into the sandstone. In days gone by some were used for cockerel fighting, others for smuggling and who knows what else.   

One large cave on the south side of Dorking High Street became the town’s World War II air-raid shelter, though was later destroyed to make way for a carpark behind Allen Court (which now has bricked-up doorways leading to nowhere).  Some caves survived the bulldozers and are still used as cellars. Next time you walk past the High Street entrance to Sainsbury’s, look down at a worn glass cover set into the pavement.  Hardly anyone ever notices it, yet this is the skylight above a hidden underground chamber.  A workman once broke through to an undiscovered cave when he was drilling a hole in West Street.

Dorking’s most intriguing system of caves are beneath South Street (opposite Waitrose) and you can arrange to visit them.

Go on a guided tour of Dorking’s South Street Caves.

For more information, go to the caves page.

Learn more about Dorking’s underworld in the Cockerel Press book:

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