Speaker Nick Powe talked to Bishopsteignton Probus Club about Kents cavern and the English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark

BRITAIN’S OLDEST HOME

Nick Powe talked to Bishopsteignton Probus Club about Kents cavern and the English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark.  This status is only awarded to areas which have internationally important geology and outstanding natural and cultural value.  The English Riviera was designated in September 2007, covering all of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham.   Rocks in this area started to be formed some 400 million years ago through to 360 million years ago, including those in Kents Cavern where over thousands of years, adventurers had entered and explored the caves, including Father John Macenery, chaplain to the Cary family who lived in Torre Abbey.   In the 1820s, his explorations unearthed extinct animal bones, flint tools, and fossilised teeth.

Father Macenery’s findings led to William Pengelly and a team of archaeologists thoroughly excavating the caves from 1865 to 1880.   He and his team found thousands of objects which were sent to museums around the world.  The findings included tools used by ancient man, bones from extinct animals, even discovering hand axes from humans who lived in the caves over 500,000 years ago.   It was all evidence that Kents cavern is in effect Britain’s oldest home !

Beatrix Potter visited Kents Cavern in 1893 and Nick Powe has evidence that the entrance inspired her to create Mrs. Tiggywinkle’s fictitious home.    Another author, Agatha Christie, also incorporated Kents Cavern within one of her stories.

Nick Powe’s family has been associated with Kents Cavern for five generations.  He took on the business from his father in 2000; his grandfather, Leslie Powe, having started work there aged 20 and ran it until he retired at 82. It was Leslie’s father, Francis Powe, who purchased it from the Lord Haldon Estate.  The family association with Kent’s cavern goes back further to George Smerdon, who had worked with William Pengelly, the Victorian archaeologist, whose team had excavated Kents Cavern and found thousands of prehistoric remains.   (His daughter married Francis Powe.)

Photo attached: David Carpenter-Clawson, Probus vice chairman thanked Nick Powe for an excellent presentation

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