A shell grotto

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Area Mitcham
Copyright 1 London Borough of Merton
Picture Reference Mit_​TomFrancis_​Ln115
Original Format Photo
Photographer / Origin of Photo Tom Francis
Notes / History Local children often built grottoes along the roads near Upper Mitcham, then asked passers-by to spare some change to spend at the annual Mitcham Fair.

Some grottoes were built from oyster or scallop shells and decorated with flowers and candles. The use of shells has been linked to badges worn by Medieval pilgrims to the shrine of St.James of Compostella, whose symbol was a scallop shell.

During the 1930s, Mitcham grottoes were also made from stone or roof tiles and might feature pieces of mirror, glass or even tiny dolls.

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