On Saturday 21st January 2012, a small team of Twilight Shadows Paranormal went to investigate King Alfred’s Tower in Wiltshire. We had been advised to visit this area by a gentleman who emailed us via the Twilight Shadows Paranormal website.
King Alfred’s Tower is a large folly situated on the Stourhead estate. The project to build the tower was commenced in 1762 by Henry Hoare II (1705 - 1785). (Henry was the owner of Stourhead and the creator of Stourhead Garden). The 160 foot tower is constructed from brick and is a triangular shape. The purpose of the tower was to commemorate the victory of 879 which established the boundary of Saxons and Britons and in memory of King Alfred. There are 222 steps inside the tower situated inside one of the corners. This corner is evident as it is slightly higher than the others. In a pointed alcove over the door of the tower is a stone figure of King Alfred, under which is the following inscription:
ALFRED THE GREAT
AD 879 on this Summit
Erected his Standard
Against Danish Invaders
To him We owe The Origin of Juries
The Establishment of a Militia
The Creation of a Naval Force
ALFRED The Light of a Benighted Age
Was a Philosopher and a Christian
The Father of his People
The Founder of the English
MONARCHY and LIBERTY
It is estimated that 1.2 million bricks were used, and the bricklayers did not use scaffolding; instead they sat upon the rising walls as they were built. The death register for the parish of Stourton and Gasper reveals that although several accidental deaths are recorded; there are none that can be directly linked to the construction of the tower.
(At the head of the vale of Stour, a verdant terrace conducts you to a lofty tower, built in a most commanding situation to the memory of King Alfred. The name of this hill is KING SETTLE, and being most probably the pass of that monarch, when he issued from his retreat in the isle of Athelney, and marched to attack the Danes at Eddington, [sic] my predecessor, Henry Hoare, fixed on it for the above purpose. Much hereafter will be said on this subject when I trace the march of the royal and illustrious Saxon; and many errors of former historians will, I hope, stand corrected.
A little to the west of Alfred's Tower is a large mound of earth, vulgarly called JACK'S CASTLE, and generally considered as one of those beacons, where in former times, fires were lighted to alarm the neighbourhood on the approach of an enemy:
"And flaming beacons cast their blaze afar,
The dreadful signal of invasive war.")
From The Ancient History of Wiltshire by Sir Richard Colt Hoare, published by William Miller, London, 1812.
(Yon well-poised tower, sublimely eminent,
Shows to the curious passenger the spot
Where Alfred, England's patriot King, unfurled
The Saxon banner 'gainst the northern foe.)
From Bidcombe Hill: a rural and descriptive poem by Francis Skurray, London 1824
There is a tale that part of the tower collapsed while people were at the top but this story is fictional. The tower’s brickwork was repaired during the 1960’s as it had been damaged by masonry bees. The repair is visible as the bricks are lighter in colour.
Another interesting fact about King Alfred’s Tower is that on 10th July 1944, a military plane, carrying five American airmen (which was heading for Zeals Airfield) flew into the turret of the tower in thick fog. All five of the airmen were killed.
On Friday 29th April 2011, a small group of the Twilight Shadows Team decided that we would have an impromptu visit to King. Alfred’s Tower. As we drove towards it, I felt an awful foreboding feeling. The nearer we got to the tower the worse I felt. We pulled into the car park and I told Loretta that I felt terrified. Loretta said that she felt the same. We parked the car behind Jacky and Dave’s car and as we all grouped together, Jacky expressed that she was very afraid also. Even Dave agreed with us.
Nevertheless, we set off in the dark to find the tower. We did feel a little easier after we had left the area of the car park.
As this was an impromptu visit, we did not really know how to get to the tower. We found a plaque explaining the history of the tower. We chatted about the history and decided that as we had no idea how to get to the tower we would leave and return another time. As we were walking back to the car park, the foreboding feeling returned. When we reached the car park, the awful atmosphere returned. We all felt as if there was an evil presence enveloping the whole area. It was like an invisible, thick, cloying fog surrounding us.
Nothing of a definitive paranormal experience occurred but we were all quite terrified. We decided to get in our cars quickly and head home.
When I returned home, I emailed the gentleman and said that we had visited this area and asked him about his experience. Strangely, he said that nothing really had happened by the tower but other things had occurred in the car park which included ‘something’ knocking on the car when nobody was there. He had to flee, like we did.
It was with a little trepidation that we decided to venture back to St. Alfred’s Tower on Saturday 21st January 2012. As we approached the car park, my pulse was racing and I was questioning our sanity. Why were we returning to this awful place? But, we reached the car park and got out of the car, and there was no evil, pervading atmosphere. We had no feelings whatsoever. We were all really surprised by this.
Jacky and Dave had been back to St. Alfred’s Tower in the daylight so this time we actually knew how to get there. We walked along the grass towards the massive tower and as we got closer, I really felt as if someone was on top of the tower observing our approach. As I looked up, I really felt as if I would see a figure but I didn’t.
We spent quite a while at the tower but there was no strange atmosphere and nothing of a paranormal nature occurred.
Eventually, we returned to the car park which still felt safe and entirely different than our first visit. I don’t think I will ever understand what we experienced in the car park back in 2011 but that’s what I love about paranormal investigating.
Written by: Maria Williams