Scott's Grotto
  • Between 28 and 34 Scott’s Road
    SG12 9JQ
Scott's Grotto: A Magical Underground World in Ware, Hertfordshire. Learn about the fascinating history and unique features of this underground world. A must-visit attraction for anyone looking to visit an unforgettable attraction in Hertfordshire.

Scott's Grotto, situated in Ware, Hertfordshire, is a Grade I listed building, and it is the most extensive shell grotto in the United Kingdom, with six chambers. The surrounding gardens and structures are Grade II* listed.

The grotto is set into the northeast face of a hill and comprises an entrance hall and a series of six chambers extending over 65 feet into and 30 feet below the chalk hillside, together with air shafts, light wells, and connecting passages. The chambers are decorated with shells, stones such as flint and fossils, and coloured glass.

History of Scott's Grotto

John Scott, an 18th-century Quaker poet who inherited Amwell House from his father in 1768, constructed the grotto formerly located in the garden of Amwell House. Its construction may have taken several years to complete. Scott kept a book listing 3,000 visitors from 1779 to 1787. Samuel Johnson visited in 1773 and described it as a "fairy hall".

Marie, Scott's daughter, inherited the house and garden after his death. The nearby Scotts Road was built after she died in 1863 and the land was acquired by British Land for development. The grotto was opened to visiting tourists in the 19th century and became a listed building in 1950. Modern houses were built on Scotts Road in the 1960s and 1970s. Originally, the builders intended to demolish the grotto to build houses, but the local council intervened and the grotto was left in a patch of open ground.

Restoration of Scott's Grotto

The grotto was acquired by East Hertfordshire District Council in 1974 and was restored in 1990-91 by the Ware Society. The works included a reconstruction of the entrance hall that had been demolished in 1960.

The architect for the restoration was James Howley, and the project manager was David Perman, Hon. Secretary of the Ware Society. Today, the grotto and gardens are owned and managed by the Scott's Grotto Trust, Charity Number 1180709.

Visiting Scott's Grotto

Scott's Grotto is a magical place of rooms and tunnels clad in a variety of shells, fossils, and other materials. It is open on Saturdays and Bank Holiday Mondays from 2.00 pm to 4.30 pm between 1st April and 30th September.

There is no need to book, and a minimum entrance fee of £2.00 per adult is requested. Children are admitted free, and the entrance fee is put towards the maintenance of this historic site.

The Grotto is situated in a residential road, and parking is allowed on single yellow lines at weekends. However, the nearest car park is shown on the map in Broadmeads, (SG12 9HX), a five-minute walk away.

Please note that the Grotto is unlit, so a torch is needed, and flat shoes are recommended. It is accessed via uneven steps and is not suitable for those with limited mobility or wheelchair users.

Dogs are not allowed on the site except for assistance dogs.

Image: Mike Quinn

Latest Reviews