When we closed our doors for the end of the season last September, we could never have anticipated they would remain closed for so long, or imagined the state of the world just six months later. We spent winter readily preparing for the start of the 2020 season, expecting to open our doors again this April. Of course, that didn’t happen.
On March 27, under government guidance, we announced the official closure of Royston Cave until further notice. This included all private tours and events. Since then, we have eagerly followed government updates, critically reviewing the information available to understand the logistics of reopening Royston Cave when possible to do so. Now, museums and heritage sites have been allowed to reopen.
Unfortunately, Royston Cave creates fundamental issues due to its restricted space and ventilation. This drastically increases the risk of infection. Despite every effort to reduce risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level, we cannot reduce it enough. Therefore, after carefully considering the feasibility of reopening, and the stringent measures required to do so, we have decided that Royston Cave will remain closed until at least April 2021, at which point the situation will be reassessed.
This decision was not one taken lightly. Royston Cave has welcomed visitors every year since its discovery in 1742. It is thought to have withstood reformations, wars and plagues, offering resolute hope to those who used it. However, we now have a responsibility and a duty of care to protect our guides and visitors, and we cannot do that if we reopen this year.
So, what happens now? Despite being closed, we are at a very exciting time in Royston Cave’s history. An improved website and launch of our online archive means information is now more accessible to more people than ever before. In the coming weeks and months, the archive will continue to be added to, creating a comprehensive database of information and news, so everyone can learn about Royston Cave, at anytime and anywhere. In addition, a virtual cave has been developed and will soon be made available online for self-guided virtual tours.
We’re also committed to increasing accessibility when we reopen. We’ll be implementing small changes that will make a huge difference for many people, including a hearing loop system for those with impaired hearing, and resources for visitors with autism.
Just as it has withstood centuries of adversities and change, Royston Cave will continue to stand resilient, adapt and reopen when it is safe to do so, so thousands more can be inspired and captivated in its presence. We thank you for your understanding, patience and continued support, and look forward to welcoming you back to Royston Cave in the future. Until then, we hope that you and those close to you stay healthy and safe.
Royston Cave Manager