Faringdon Tunnels

Faringdon TunnelsEvidence has been found of a number of very old tunnels running beneath the streets of Faringdon. One tunnel is thought to lead from All Saints’ Church (1) via the Salutation Inn (2) to The Bell Inn (3). A second tunnel is thought to lead from the church to Gloucester House (4). A lot more research and investigation, possibly using modern technology in the form of Ground Penetrating Radar is needed to authenticate the actual presence and routes of these tunnels.

It is fairly certain that the tunnels were created for the Cistercian monks so that they could wander in peace between their key places in the town.  In 1203, the Manor of Faringdon was granted to them by King John. In the absence of a monastery the monks set themselves up in All Saints’ Church (1) and were active here until the time of the dissolution of the monasteries around 1540. It has been said that a tunnel entrance is either under the tombstone by the church door or under the pulpit.

There is also a suggestion that the tunnels might have continued to be made use of and new entrances created during the reign of Henry VIII (1509-1547) and his Church of England forcing the Catholics to go underground.

There is a suspected extension added to the tunnel northwards from the church to the previous Faringdon House, which was built in the 1590s in front of where the current one is now. It is thought that the tunnels would have been used as possible escape routes for the Royalist soldiers stationed at Faringdon House during the English Civil War (1642-1651).

The Salutation Inn (2), across the street from the church was the site of a lodging house for the monks and their guests. A tunnel was discovered beneath the old stables when they were being demolished in the 1970s.

Faringdon Tunnel The Bell
Inscription on the pavement outside the Bell Hotel

There are also reported to be traces of an entrance to presumably the same tunnel beneath The Bell Hotel (3), which served as a hospice for those in the care of the monks. The inscription on the pavement in front of the building (photo) says “Entrance to top secret bunker”. It does seem an unlikely position for it and it is not known who was responsible for this but the terminology might suggest something to do with WWII. Or was it one of the many and sometimes very strange amusements that Lord Berners liked to put around the town during his time?

Faringdon Tunnel The Crown
Tunnel entrance in the snug of The Old Crown Coaching Inn.

There is also another tunnel entrance in the snug of The Old Crown Coaching Inn (photo) that needs more investigating. It would presumably have joined the tunnel to the church and possibly goes onwards to Faringdon House.

In the mid-1980s, Faringdon resident Keith Jeffery explored the tunnel leading from the ‘snug’ of The Crown. He states that “The tunnel is quite low and I was crawling in. After a few metres the floor of the tunnel opens into a well; then used as a sink for waste water from the Crown kitchen behind the downstairs bar. The tunnel continued beyond in a direction directly towards the church. I tried to organise scaffolding (for support) from local firms, and discussed breathing apparatus (the air was foul) with the fire brigade.” But for various reasons the investigation got no further.2

A second tunnel is said to run from where the monks lived in a priory, which was on the site of Gloucester House (4).

A third tunnel (5) was discovered in the 1960s, running from the back of the Old Police Station, which was built in 1858 in Coach Lane, in the direction of the church.

During the renovations of 7a Market Place in 1996, another tunnel (6) was discovered, through an opening at the back and was heading towards Swan Lane.

More tunnel entrances have been reported, two in London Street – in the basement of what was Davis DIY (Nos.13-17) now bricked up and the Lotus Retreat building (No.2) has one leading from the cellar under the road.


  1. The Faringdon Tunnels – A leaflet researched and written by Cllr. Rosalind Burns, on behalf of Faringdon Town Council can be downloaded from here: faringdontowncouncil.gov.uk/information/tunnels-leaflet-by-cllr-burns/
  2. Information provided in an email received from Keith Jeffery 22/01/2024.

Page first published 06-05-2023 | Last updated 17-03-2024 | Copyright © 2018-2024 Ian Lee | All rights reserved.