Margate is a seaside town in Kent, England, where Londoners go to enjoy its sandy beaches.
The town is also home to a spectacular mystery: an underground cavern nicknamed Shell Grotto. Its subterranean passages wind for 70 feet, and millions of seashells adorn them. Who built the cavern and for what purpose remains a mystery, but it is one beautiful enigma.
The grotto's discovery in 1835 was a complete surprise to the people of Margate. Debate about its origins has raged ever since, according to the local website created to promote the unique seaside hideaway.
Where do the shells come from? According to the website’s FAQ page, 99 percent are native to the British Isles, and most of them can be found locally.
There are mussels, whelks, oysters, cockles, limpits, razor shells … and the list goes on.
There are exotic shells, such as queen conches from the Caribbean, in the corners of the Altar Room.
The grotto has been in private hands since its discovery. The government agency English Heritage watches over it.