A few weeks ago I took a trip to the chained Oak tree of Alton towers situated in Staffordshire in the UK. I had previously visited before and had looked into the legend that surrounds the tree which is:
On an autumn night in 1821, The Earl of Shrewsbury was returning to his home, Alton Towers, when, mysteriously an old man appeared in the road. The coach stopped to find why he was there, and the women (some accounts recall it is a man) begged for the charity of a coin.
The Earl cruelly dismissed him, so the old man placed a curse on him. The old man croaked: “For every branch on the Old Oak Tree here that falls… a member of the Earl’s family will die.”
The Earl dismissed him and carried on his way…But that night, a storm brewed up, and a single branch from the old oak tree broke and fell.
Later that very same night, the son of the Earl suddenly, and mysteriously died…..
The next day, the Earl ordered his servants to chain every branch together to prevent other branches from falling.
So… we have a ‘chained oak’.
More on this can be seen here
Within this article I ask the question, is the legend real, Did the Earl really order the oak chained up? Or did later generations chain it up in a spirit of fun and mischief? After my last visit I couldn’t really find anything other than many believe it was nothing more than a legend but I strongly believe that behind every legend, there is normally some truth within it, its just over the years the story has been passed about, a bit like a Chinese whisper, and you are left with a story that as been twisted over the years but some details have some truth. After this visit, I had the help of our friend Gina Marshall, she had a look through old newspaper archieves to see what she could find.
And what she did find was quite interesting!
There was a storm
The legend states that a violent storm happened on a autumn night in 1821, there wasnt anything documentated for this year but there was a violent storm documented in 1872!
The storm struck that hard that on the Earl of Shrewburys estate 4 oak trees were left twisted in shape.
The Earl of Shrewburys son, didn’t die as the result of this storm recorded but it is recorded that one of his sons did indeed die suddenly but some years later after the storm.
Did the Earl order the Oak to be chained?
Well in the below article it states that he did 40 years previous of this article being written which would tally with the year the storm occurred…
So, this evidence suggests that there could be some truth to the legend..but, Why he chained the tree still is a mystery!
Writer : Charlene Lowe Kemp – Research by Gina Marshall