Updated: Mar 16, 2019
A big thank you to Robert Bellingham from Perth in Australia who contacted me about three years ago to tell me about a cave like tunnel at Sherwood that he used to play in as a child over 50 years ago. He last went looking for it with his father back in the mid 1990's when he was over here and managed to locate it amongst the undergrowth in the middle of the woods, still hidden and probably not having been accessed for many years. However, he couldn't get very close due to the heavy bog and brambles surrounding it, so left it as it was.
Having given me a description of its rough location, I did go looking for it three years ago but didn't have any luck. Roll forward to a couple of weeks ago, Robert contacted me to see if I'd found it also saying he would be coming back to the UK for a few weeks and could take me to it if notCreate a blog post subtitle that summarises your post in a few short, punchy sentences and entices your audience to continue reading.
So, as you can guess, I wasn't going to turn an offer like that down. We met up this morning and headed off into the woods dressed in suitable attire and ready with cameras. After a 15-20 minute walk and climbing through some heavy undergrowth and fallen trees we came across a small aperture in a bank with a set of brickwork forming an arch above it. Looking like too small a gap to climb into I shone my torch inside and took a few photographs.
After doing so, I decided to get down on my knees and ease myself in. Once inside I couldn't stand up due to the amount of soil that has gathered in there over the years but I would guess originally it had the depth to accommodate a short person standing. The walls and roof are made of a mix of sandstone and bricks which are still quite solid, but sadly the tunnel has caved in around 6 metres from the entrance partly due to tree roots. Looking from above that point there is more evidence that at one stage the tunnel may have carried on quite a lot further.
Interestingly, having done a little bit of research on the web, Williams Siemens, who co-founded the Siemens electrical engineering company with his brother Werner in 1858, lived at Sherwood Park from 1874 until he died in 1883. He was a pioneer and inventor similar to David Salomons and in his short 9 year period there, made many changes to the grounds of the house which could possibly explain why this tunnel exists.
He also created Sherwood Lake, which was fed by the same natural spring that still flows into it today. This spring water was Siemens’ main water source for his house pumped up from the lake using his own generated electricity.
Having wandered around the woods today, there are certainly many pieces of evidence that this was once beautifully landscaped gardens of the main house which still stands off Pembury Road today. I will be returning to explore and document this area of Tunbridge Wells in the future with a view to adding a Sherwood gallery to the site. And finally, if anyone out there can throw some light on the tunnel or has any childhood memories of it, I'd love to hear about them.