06 Jul Delving deep: Cheltenham building surveyor discovers cave
Our Cheltenham building surveyor didn’t need to do too much digging on this level 3 survey to uncover the fascinating history of the construction of this beautiful home.
The house itself was intriguing and unique. It was built in 1910 as a hunting lodge for the local manor, and had been extended twice since. The 2.9 acres of land were home to several outbuildings and an original cesspit. But it was the presence of a sizeable cave that really made the property stand out.
An unusual discovery
Although it is unusual to find a cave in the grounds of a house, our surveyor, Chris, quickly realised that this was a man-made cave, formed when the stone was quarried from the cliff face in the garden to be used to build the house. In fact, a bit of digging led to the discovery that the site previously operated as a quarry, and that active quarrying is ongoing nearby.
Buildings made using Cotswold stone, like the stone quarried from this garden, can be found throughout the region. It has a distinctive mellow cream colour and a course sandy (oolite) texture. Its popularity for building new homes waned slightly after the industrial revolution, when lighter, more manageable materials were favoured; however, quarrying is still active close by using traditional methods and it’s easy to spot countless new and old buildings that use the stone. For example, Cotswold stone was also used to construct numerous churches in the vicinity, including the prominent Christ Church in Cheltenham centre.
While the cave is a fascinating addition to the three acres of land that comes with the property, it does come with some health and safety considerations. With any old structure like this, you need to consider the risk of collapse from loose stonework, or disturbance of stone by vegetation and root growth. We would advise protecting the opening with a lockable gate to restrict access and prevent accidents.
With local quarries known to still be active, we would also advise property owners in the area to expect some localised traffic associated with their operation.