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  • Writer's pictureMargate Caves

The Caves as a curiosity

On the 11 August 1917 Charles James Feret (or Fèret) (1854-1921) wrote the following about the Caves;

"Extraordinary Treat to the Juveniles of Margate, Ramsgate, and the Isle of Thanet generally. The Vortigern Caves. Renowned in History, and now admitted the most interesting discovery of the age, as proved by the numbers who have attended the two preceding Exhibitions. Will be Open Free! on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday, April 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 1863, to Children not exceeding ten years of age, if accompanied, by parent or guardian, to whom the charge will be only Threepence. The Vortigern Caves adjoining the Trinity Schools, opposite the New Church Fort, Margate, are interesting and mysterious—well deserving inspection—their antiquity and use being recorded in history—any attempt to describe them would fail to convey to the mind the ingenuity and labour bestowed on their construction. The enterprising proprietor who now for the first season submits them for inspection, earnestly solicits public support, feeling assured that those who favour him with a visit will declare they are the most extensive and curious specimens of the abode of the ancient Britons. The whole of the Chambers are Warm, Dry, and well Ventilated. The Exhibition will open at 9 a.m. and close at 9 p.m. Observe the admission will be only 3d. each day. At the Vortigern Caves on Good Friday, a Large Bun will be given to each Girl and Boy between 11 and 14 years of age. At the Vortigern Caves on Easter Monday, every Visitor above 10 years of age will he presented with a nicely printed Book, entitled "Buy your own Cherries," which has obtained world-wide notoriety and approbation."

Feret, born in London, the son of a French father and an English mother. Initially he worked as a Civil Service clerk in the India Office, but by 1901 was declaring himself as living on his own means. In the previous year he had published an extensive treatise in three volumes comprising over one thousand pages on the history of Fulham, where he lived previously. However by the time of the 1911 census he had moved down to Margate where he set up as a dealer in antiques, with premises at 25 Northdown Road (on the north side about where Aldi’s is now), trading under the name “Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe”

He was a keen local historian, and between about 1913 and 1920 he maintained a column, entitled Bygone Thanet, in the Isle of Thanet Gazette, comprising snippets of local history resulting from his own researches, along with the contributions and recollections of the readers.


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