Hidden away in the grounds of the UK's number 1 tourist attraction is a derelict gothic mansion, the original Alton Towers. Very few visitors are actually aware of the buildings existence, or the haunted folklore which surrounds it.

Alton Towers was built in an 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 efforts during The Holy Land Wars.

Alton Towers

Eventually it came to belong to the Talbot family. The first Earl of Shrewsbury 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. By the time of Charles death in 1832 the mansion had already become one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture.

In 1821 Charles the Earl of Shrewsbury was returning to the castle one winters night, when his stagecoach was stopped by an old woman in the road, angry he demanded to know what she was doing. The old woman was homeless and hungry, when she asked for some money the Earl angrily rejected her request, the old woman cursed him she told him for every branch on the old oak tree that falls a member of the Earls family will die.

The Earl dismissed the curse 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 that no more branches would fall; the tree is still chained up today.