First, the story of the Shell Grotto in Margate, Kent, courtesy of http://www.shellgrotto.co.uk/pages/welcome.html:
In 1835 Mr James Newlove lowered his young son Joshua into a hole in the ground that had appeared during the digging of a duck pond. Joshua emerged describing tunnels covered with shells. He had discovered the Shell Grotto; 70ft of winding underground passages leading to an oblong chamber, its walls decorated with strange symbols mosaiced in millions of shells. Is it an ancient pagan temple? A meeting place for some secret cult? Nobody can explain who built this amazing place, or why, or when, but since its discovery visitors from all over the world have been intrigued by the beautiful mosaic and the unsolved mystery.
I had never heard this story before today, and I can only imagine how exciting it must have been for that young boy, in the middle of digging a duck pond, to stumble upon such an awe-inspiring place. It’s the kind of thing kids and adults alike dream of. If you cannot get to the Shell Grotto in Kent, there is a place here in Wisconsin, just an hour and half from Madison, largely unknown, that may help you get your grotto fix. The Dickeyville Grotto, though not as mysterious, is an amazing place. If you’ve never been, it is worth the trip.