Before we start we should probably warn you that this post contains images and information about spiders so best not read if you have a fear of these eight-legged creatures…
As a House Elf you have to deal with all sorts of creepy crawlies lurking in the nooks and crannies of an old house. Whether its moths hiding in cotton blankets or mice shuffling around under the stairs we come across it all as we carry out our work.
Thankfully us Elves don’t scare easily but the creatures living in our cellars definitely give us nightmares from time to time! These shiny black spiders with bulbous bodies are huge and hang over your head as you walk through the cellar—it is general protocol to always wear a coat with a hood up if we have to walk past them.
With the recent stories in the newspapers about poisonous spiders such as the false widow we were getting a bit concerned about the safety of staff and contractors onsite. Luckily for us, a few weeks ago we had our Natural History expert, Simon Moore, visiting us to check on some of our taxidermy in the gatehouse family museum. Now, when Simon mentioned he was a fan of spiders we thought we’d thank him for his hard work by taking him down our cold, dark, damp cellar to have a look at our colony of the scary creatures. Seeing as there has been a lot of talk about the false widow spiders in the news recently, we were keen to have our own spiders identified.
Our spiders do look a little like the false widows but they are actually Meta menardi – a type of cave spider and not poisonous.
“they are monsters, as I’ve never seen them quite that big. Better warn visitors to cover their heads as many females were there with large egg sacs right over our heads”
The spiders may not be dangerous* but we will certainly be keeping our heads covered when we have to go down to the boilers!
If spiders are your thing too and you want to see more from the cellars, take a look at Jana – one of our volunteer photographer’s photos here.