Monday 7th November 2016
During my wander around the Stourhead estate, I’d noticed references to (King) Alfred’s Tower on several occasions. But it exists outside of the main National Trust-owned property.
But it’s easy enough to find, following the brown road signs from Stourton. An unsigned car parking area awaits down a narrow lane. No more than a ten-minute drive at most, from Stourhead.
I felt it was wise to don my leather boots before trekking off in search of the tower. I’d bought them with me on the off chance I might have felt up to doing another walk from the estate car park (the National Trust offers at least one route on its website)… Ultimately, I did not.
So, I crossed over the narrow road and entered a field beside an information board; expecting the tower to be perhaps one mile away from here (it wasn’t visible from the estate or during the drive) and yet, there it was – just around the corner and ahead, at the far end of this same field.
Like many towers, standing today; this one was built as a folly and is today owned by the National Trust. It’s barely two-hundred years old and is registered as a Grade I Listed Building.
I was hoping, quite expectantly, to be able to climb a spiral staircase on ascent to the top – much like you can at Bristol’s Cabot Tower and at the Tyndale or North Nibley Monument in the Cotswolds. Sadly, the door was locked.
At times when it may be open (mainly, during the summer, from what I’ve read), free access is granted to National Trust members while other visitors will have to pay an entrance fee (probably around £8 per adult). By comparison; the two towers I mentioned earlier are free to access when available.
While I wasn’t able to explore it on this occasion, I will also keep this in mind for a return visit to Stourhead in 2017.