The Margate Shell Grotto

The Shell Grotto was discovered in 1835 by Mr James Newlove. He had been digging a pond when a hole appeared in the ground. Mr Newlove lowered his son Joshua down into it, and when he emerged he told his father there were tunnels covered with shells. Two years later in 1837 he opened them to the public. The Grotto is 70 feet of winding passages leading to an oblong chamber. There is believed to be 4.6 million shells used in the different mosaics on the walls. Nothing is known about the Grotto prior to Mr Newlove finding it. One theory is the Mosaic symbolism represents a journey from birth, through life to death, and ending up in the celestial afterlife.

Looking up at the Dome

The Altar Chamber


Please see the Shell Grotto Website for more details: