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Garden Category: North Midlands
Alton Towers was the site of eighth century fortress held by Ceolred, King of Mercia. The castle on the site was occupied by the Earl of Shrewsbury from 1412, when Lady Ankarat de Verdun married Sir John Talbot, and it remained in the Talbot family’s ownership until the 1920s.
The 15th Earl, Charles Talbot, who was born in 1753, transformed the landscape surrounding the Towers. He employed hundreds of artisans, mechanics and labourers under the direction of the garden architects, Thomas Allason and Robert Abrahams, to build his dream, which was to create a completely original garden landscape. The lakes, pools and terraces were skillfully dug out to allow the Chinese Pagoda Fountain to throw water up to 90 feet high above the tree tops. The 300 feet long Grand Conservatories were designed by Abrahams for him and he had Le Refuge built as a place of rest and refreshment. He even built the Swiss Cottage for a blind Welsh harpist, whom he employed to fill the gardens with music. A cenotaph to Charles Talbot, who died in 1827, stands at the entrance to the gardens in the form of a copy of the famous Choragic Temple of Lysiscrates (Athens 344 BC). It houses a marble bust of him with the inscription He Made the Desert Smile.
Alton Towers is home to some of the biggest and most wonderful gardens in Britain. With elegant conservatories, surrounded by many different types of plant. The gardens continue through the valley for miles – so expect to get lost. Also gardens can be found surrounding the house itself, Her Ladyships garden is the most famous, there are plans to re-open another garden next to the castle- Her Ladyships Oratory. The gardens were first opened to the public in 1860, thirty years later garden fetes attended by as many as 30,000 people were common. The two major garden designers were Thomas Allason and Robert Abrahams and it was there combination of money, architectural talent and an eye for beauty, which made the gardens the extravagant, spectacular sight they are today. The well-kept original gardens with the Alton Towers leisure park is well worth visiting. Rhododendrons, azaleas, shrubs, lake etc. (N.B. The entrance fee includes the ‘pleasure park’ so if you only want to visit the gardens you might find it expensive.) Read more…