Rumours of Phoenician/Cretan/Roman – or 18th century ‘hell-fire’ club. Decoration in the long corridor and turret is of Mediterranean designs eg scorpion, turtle etc. There are no Christian or Classical motifs. The millions of shells have been tarnished by candle-flame since the grotto opened to tourists in the 1830s following ‘discovery’.
The Maze and subterranean grotto were created in 1987 within the Pleasure grounds of the castle. The interior decoration was carefully designed to suggest a rusticated limestone tunnel leading to a towering central chamber. The use of niches, Classical statuary and a water feature is similar to the 17th century nymphaeum at Lainate, Milan. At the Leeds Castle grotto interior decoration was done by Diana Reynell, Simon Verity and Belinda Eade.
15th century church with a 19th century vestry which has been decorated with cockle shells in keeping with the religious symbol of St James of Compostela. The churchyard inspired the opening of Charles Dickens' book Great Expectations.