2023 Highlights: The beginning of a new era at Kents Cavern

2023 proved to be quite a momentous year for Kents Cavern. So from our tribe to yours, thank you to everyone who supported us this year.

Last year, we wrote about our 2022 highlights and said it was one of the busiest years we had ever had. Well, we’re going to say the same this year! In fact, 2023 proved to be quite a momentous year for Kents Cavern.

So as it draws to a close, we'd like to say a HUGE thank you to our staff, supporters and valued visitors. People are the reason that Kents Cavern is where it is today. So, from the bottom of our hearts (and our cave!), thank you for helping us to protect this incredible site.

Here’s what happened in 2023 in numbers…

We ran 12 different events throughout the year, including:

  • Carols in the Caves - 9 evenings.
  • Cave Cinema – 48 films.
  • Santa in the Caves – 140 shows.
  • We welcomed 6,809 school children with our educational trips. 
  • Donated over £2,000 worth of tickets to local charities.
  • Made 4,186 cups of tea, which if each tea bag were lined up side by side, would be 88 double-decker buses!
  • And finally, a big shout out to the Tour Guide who conducted the most tours: James Mackenzie-Thorpe spent a whopping 518 hours in the cave this year showing visitors around the cavern.

So from our tribe to yours, thank you to everyone who supported us this year.

Here’s some of the key things that happened over the last 12 months at Kents Cavern…

January: Historic Inscriptions Research

We started the year strong when researchers Raking Light came to the caves to uncover and catalogue historic graffiti throughout the cave. This is part of a 5-year research project, which aims to create a full archive of all the inscriptions throughout the cave.

February: Winners of Winners for Devon

In February, even though we were only entered for three awards, we left with 4! We were awarded Winner of Winners for Devon at Visit Devon Tourism Awards. We won:

  • Silver for Resilience and Innovation
  • Gold for Tourism Event of the Year (for Cave Cinema)
  • Gold for Large Visitor Attraction
  • AND Winners of Winners!

We were so honoured to be recognised for our hard work and so thankful for all the support from our visitors and staff.

March: Restoring 200 bones

In March, our very own Tour Guide Quinn undertook a restoration project. Over 200 bones sat in storage for over 20 years, until Quinn stepped up to the task.

Quinn was studying his Master’s in Palaeontology and as part of his thesis project, he identified, cleaned and treated the most at-risk bones with Paraloid.

At the end of Quinn’s project, it had been over 106 years since the bones were excavated. You can now see these bones and learn more about the project on display at Kents Cavern.

April: Susan Calman

In April, Comedian and Presenter Susan Calman and her campervan Helen visited us to film part of her programme Grand Days Out. The show was aired on Channel 5 in May, and you can still watch it on catch-up.

May: For Sale!

In May, we made news worldwide as “Britain’s Oldest Home” came on the market for the first time (it’s estimated that over 445 million people saw the news coverage of the sale!).

After 120 years, the Powe Family decided it was time to hand the reins over. The Powe’s looked after Kents Cavern through 5 generations with unwavering dedication, transforming the caves into an award-winning attraction. But recognizing the need for a fresh perspective and new opportunities, the caves went on the market in May 2023.

June: Yoga in the Caves

In June, we refreshed with Yoga in the Caves. Our exclusive sessions allow 6 people to mediate and stretch underground, feeling at one with the earth.

July: Cave Cinema

In July, Cave Cinema began! One of our biggest events of the year kicked off with a bang as we showed 48 films over 6 weeks. With family favourites and horrific horrors, we welcomed thousands of new people into Kents Cavern, some of whom had never been into the caves before.

August: New Owners

After a very quick sale process, in August 2023, Kents Cavern officially became part of the Tudor Hotels Collection, a group known for historic sites across the UK. Most notably, Bodmin Jail Museum and Hotel, and the Redcliffe Hotel in Paignton.

The Kents Cavern management team remains the same, and the whole team are very excited at what this new chapter will look like.

September: Agatha Christie Festival

Cave Cinema returned for one night only as we showed two Agatha Christie films to celebrate the Agatha Christie Festival. The tickets went on sale earlier in the year, and sold out within a month. We’re looking forward to putting on more Cinema evenings in 2024.

October: Halloween

In October half-term, we went Batty! We put on bat themed activities to educate and entertain guests about bats.

November: Carols in the Caves

Carols in the Cave began in November and ran for 9 evenings across November and December. Crowd favourites ‘Yours In Harmony’ and ‘Torbay Police and Community Choir’ returned, plus we welcomed a new choir ‘Red Rock Accapella’. Thank you to all the choirs for putting on fantastic performances and creating a wonderful atmosphere.

December: Santa in the Caves

In December, our second biggest event of the year started: Santa in the Caves. A cast and crew of around 20 people had been working for 6 months to create an interactive pantomime helping children discover the ‘true meaning of Christmas’. They performed over 100 shows with the same energy and enthusiasm in each. A tremendous feat and a huge well done to everyone involved.