Mother Ludlam's Cave - Atlas Obscura

Mother Ludlam's Cave

This place is the subject of local legends about a good witch and a Celtic God. 

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The small sandstone cave known as Mother Ludlam’s Cave or Mother Ludlam’s Hole, is located in the Wey Valley, a short drive from the town of Farnham in Surrey, England.

A natural spring runs through it, called Ludwell. It was once considered a sacred site dedicated to a Celtic tribe called the Atrebates. Now, the location is a subject of local lore.

The word ‘Ludwell’ etymology is from an ancient Celtic language, which translates to ‘Bubbling Spring,’ and is associated with Lud, a Celtic god-king of healing. It was believed the spring waters possessed healing properties as well. According to legend, the god-king Lud was the ruler of the Trinovantes tribe in the first century B.C. The mythical figure was said to have founded London, and legend says he’d travel to the natural spring of Ludlam to heal his battle wounds.

The folkloric figure called Mother Ludlam is another favored local tale. Known as a “good witch,” she lived in a cave and was a renowned healer. A very kind witch, Mother Ludlam would help people in need and often lend out her cooking utensils, furniture, and even her beloved cauldron. The devil visited one day wishing to borrow her cauldron, she declined and when her back was turned, he stole it. Mother Ludlam began to chase him across the land. The devil ran and made great leaps and bounds and where he touched the ground he created a series of sandstone hills known today as the Devil’s Jumps.

On the last of these hills, the devil tripped and dropped the cauldron before scampering off. Upon recovering the cauldron, Mother Ludlam placed it in Frensham Church where it remains to this day, forever safe from the devil.

Mother Ludlam’s Cave, became a popular grotto in the 18th century. Venturing into the cave is now prohibited, and the entrance is sealed by iron gates, due to its structural instability. Some say the cave entry looks like a gateway into the faery realm.

Know Before You Go

An easy walk along a public footpath, you can spot the cave surrounded by a lush cluster of trees. Just a short drive from Ludlam's Cave you can visit her cauldron at Frensham Church.

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February 9, 2024

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