We may know Alton Towers more for the theme park and thrill ride, but within lies the actual dark, mysterious and very haunted Alton Towers.
The History of Alton Towers
Alton Towers was built in a area named Bunbury Hill. The land started out as an iron age fort in the years before 1000BC and remained that way till Saxon King Ceolred Mercia made it his fortress in 700AD.
Right through to the 1100s AD, the fort had many uses and many owners, until it was given to a crusader Bertram de Verdan for his work during The Holy Land Wars.
Eventually it came to belong to the Talbot family. The first Earl of Shrewbury was John Talbot who for most of his life fought alongside Henry V. The family always remained close to the heart of the rulers of the country.
During its early life the house was called Alveton or Alton Lodge and was a summer residence for the Earl and his family.
The 15th Earl Charles took more interest in the house and grounds and wanted to extend it, from 1800 till 1852, work was carried out or planned every year. He wanted to also develop the dry land to the east, the lakes and pools we see today were all dug by hand and filled with water which was diverted from a spring in Ramsor.
In the early 1800`s thousands of trees were also planted. In 1811 when most off the work began on the house its name changed to Alton Abbey. Although Charles died in 1827, his nephew John shared in all he wanted to do and overtook the work. In 1837 the Shrewbury`s main residence burnt to the ground and all their possessions were then moved to the newly named Alton Towers.
John died in 1852, and this was the the start of legal battles from family members who all believed they had rights to the estate, Henry Chetwynd Talbot won, but due to the vast costs, he sold off the contents of the house to help pay. In 1860 he decided to open the grounds to the public to raise funds for the much needed repairs on the house.
It was the 20th Earl Charles Henry Talbot who began to develop the estate as a tourist attraction. However, he split with his wife in the late 1800`s and he moved out of the towers leaving his wife to live there and he was supposed to pay an allowance to her but it was the failure of doing this that was the beginning of the decline of the house. In 1918 much of the Shrewsbury`s possessions were sold, and in 1924 the Alton Towers estate was sold to a group of local business men.
Shortly after the outbreak of WW2 the house was requistioned for use a a cadet training centre and was not returned to the owners till 1952, with no repairs being carried out during this time it went further into disrepair, and due to the shortage of metals after the whole interior was stripped out and sold leaving what we see today.
The exeption of the chapel which housed a model railway and the old armoury which became a gift shop, the rest of the house became abandoned.
In the 1970`s the new owners decided to reinforce the floor and ceiling to allow public access, and a few attractions were put in the ground to amuse the public. In 1980 John Broome was in charge, he decided to turn the 500 acre site into a leisure park for families, and continued to add rides till it was all bought by Tussauds in 1990, it as since continued to grow as a leisure park and now a small part of the house with an extension added now houses a ride called Hex, which was built in 2000.
The Ghosts of Alton Towers
There was said to be a curse placed on the Talbot family when when one member in 1821 rejected an old womans request for a coin, she told him for every branch on the old oak tree that falls a member of the Earls will die, but he dismissed this and carried on his way, that night a violent storm broke out and a branch fell from the tree, later that same night a member of the family became ill and mysteriously died.
The Earl ordered his servants to chain up the tree so no more branches could fall, the tree is still chained up today. The story of the theme ride Hex is tied into this curse.
Also it is said, that on a moonless night a ghostly stranger dressed in black can be seen wandering the grounds around the house.
Other ghosts that have been reported are a grey lady that glides through the corridor. Her presence is usually heralded by the faint smell of perfume. A ghost has been seen in the music room, heavy footsteps have been heard, and small objects like little pebbles have been thrown at visitors, notably during an episode of Most Haunted that was aired on 30th January 2007.