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Pocket Guide: Reigate Barons Cave Hotels

The Barons' Cave is located in the centre of Reigate. It forms part of the old Reigate Castle which was demolished long ago and is open for tours on certain days of the year. Check in advance before you come to visit from your Surrey hotel or local guesthouse to avoid disappointment, although there are plenty of other attractions to see in Reigate if you find it closed. It's one of the country's oldest show caves, however, and is worth a look because of its unusually colourful historic associations.

Surrey Hotels for the Barons' Cave in Reigate

The old Norman castle was built in 1088 and was briefly occupied by the French in 1216. Occupied continuously by various Lords of Reigate Manor until the 16th century, it eventually fell into neglect. The Royalists and then Cromwell's troops garrisoned here in the 17th Century during the English Civil War, and now only the Baron's Cave survives. It has a sophisticated design and was constructed in three sections. On a guided tour of the cave from your Surrey hotel or B&B you can appreciate the workmanship that went in to it and wonder, along with the experts, what on earth it was built for!

Reigate Barons' Court from Surrey Hotels

There's no shortage of ideas on that score, either, although the consensus of opinion is that it started life as a dungeon when the castle was built, because the quality of the workmanship puts paid to the idea that it was a simple storeroom. The various passages were most likely sally ports, or secret escape routes, but that doesn't shed any light on the purpose of the substantial dead-end side passages. The local story is that the barons who were responsible for drawing up the Magna Carta met in these caves in 1215 before escorting King John along to nearby Runnymede and getting him to sign along the dotted line, but that simply isn't true. Visit the Barons' Cave from your Surrey hotel base and decide for yourself what it's all about, because your guess will be as good as anyone else's!

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