Pre-Regency Hot Spot: Hellfire Caves

Map of the Hell-Fire Caves

In West Wycombe, an enteprising Sir Francis Dashwood sought not only to alleviate local economic contraction, but also fulfill the baser desires of fellow peers.

A founding member of the Dilettante Society, Sir Francis was a lover of classical art who fantasized about the Knights of St. Francis meeting in a secluded location.  Coined the Hell-Fire club, they were not the first group of peers to meet clandestine and underground for the modern day equivalent of a good frat party.  Although excused of all sorts of wicked and nefarious deeds, its likely that “Hell-Fire” members did little more than imbibe a bit too much and frolick with women of the night.

Exclusive to the rakes of the ton, it is still difficulty to develop a roster of members, but doubtless that among the primary activities was a discussion of politics.

Although Dashwood’s Hellfire Club fell out around the 1760s, many continued the legacy well into the next century.  With the motto of Do What Thou Wilt, these rakes undoubtedly inspired a generation of Regency rakes to do their worst upon Society.


P.S. Its been driving me crazy where I first read about the Hellfire Caves in a hist-ro plot.  Finally, I figured out it was in Alexandra Benedict’s Too Scandalous To Wed (reviewed).

One thought on “Pre-Regency Hot Spot: Hellfire Caves

  1. Did you catch Ghost Hunters International when they investigated Dashwood’s caves in June 2007? If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s on the SciFi Channel. I’ve seen the episode twice now. A great visual resource and you learn a lot about how the caves were created and used.

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