Stump Hole Cavern was the setting for a sketch in the UK comedy show, The League of Gentlemen. The one and only time the cavern appeared was in the episode "Love Comes To Royston Vasey", which was originally broadcast on 8 Feb, 1999.
In the sketch, we are given a guided tour of the cavern by Mike McNamara, played by Mark Gatiss. It is only through his narrative that we learn the colourful history of the underground attraction, which lasts only a few minutes, but the events he descibes and alludes to are very vivid.
The history Mike McNamara wants us to know about
As Mike says, "Stump Hole Cavern takes it’s name from the crippled prostitute who plied her trade here in the 17th century.". In the live performance of The League of Gentlemen, this statement is expanded upon, detailing what bang customers would get for buck. It was a lot of bang for not much buck, and that's all I'll say...
However, in recent years, the profile of the cavern has been much improved. Numerous celebrities, such as Don Henderson or the Chuckle Brothers have visited the attraction, and many TV shows have used the cavern's interesting structures as sets, including Dr Who in 1974.
Nowadays, Stump Hole Cavern boasts some very interesting geological features which can't be seen anywhere else locally, including some comically shaped limestone formations.
The history Mike McNamara doesn't want us to know about
Although Mike never explicitly says why Stump Hole Cavern has become infamous recently, he does drop iceberg-sized hints.
A theme running throughout the sketch is Mike's dogmatic insistence on attention to safety. Even at the start of the scene, when filing into the cavern, he says "mind your heads". A minute later, it's "mind the shale on this floor – quite slippery". Both valid warnings you might think? Soon afterwards, when discussing the filming of Dr Who, he says "in an amusing incident, Tom Baker sprained his ankle on that rock there… Just goes to show how easily these accidents happen", followed by an awkward silence.
Later on in the tour, when Mike turns off all the lights, he explains "I myself am not fond of the darkness - It’s in the darkness I see the boy’s face. Eyes protruding, tongue out… black". At this point, most of the tourists are nervously looking for the quickest route to the exits. Still worse, when discussing what various rock formations resemble, Mike says about some non-descript lump of limestone, "when I look at it I seem to see a little pair of hands clutching at a slippery rope, sliding down, down into the dark water.". Later on, in a soliloquy, he fails to set everyone at easewhen he explains himself, "school trip tragedy – local man blamed".
The tourists file out, heads down, not wanting to spend any more time than they have to in this tomb