The caves at West Wycombe were used as a meeting place in the 1750s-1760s for Sir Francis Dashwood's notorious Hellfire Club, whose members included various politically and socially important 18th-century figures such as William Hogarth, John Wilkes, Thomas Potter and John Montague, 4th Earl of Sandwich. Though not believed to have been a member, Benjamin Franklin was a close friend of Dashwood who visited the caves on more than one occasion.
According to Horace Walpole, the members' practice was rigorously pagan: Bacchus and Venus were the deities to whom they almost publicly sacrificed; and the nymphs and the hogsheads that were laid in against the festivals of this new church, sufficiently informed the neighbourhood of the complexion of those hermits.
Many rumours of black magic, satanic rituals and orgies were in circulation during the life of the club. Dashwood's club meetings often included mock rituals, pornographic materials, much drinking, wenching and banqueting.