King Alfred’s Tower, Coordinates
King George III, to stand near the location of 'Egbert's stone' where it is believed that Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, rallied the Saxons in May 878 before the Battle of Ethandun where the Danish army, led by Guthrum the Old was defeated. It is the start of the Leland Trail, a 28-mile (45.1 km) footpath which runs from King Alfred's Tower to Ham Hill Country Park.
In 1765 Henry Flitcroft, a Palladian architect, designed the tower. Building began in 1769 or early 1770, and was completed in 1772 at an estimated cost between £5,000 and £6,000. There may have been some delay due to difficulty in obtaining the bricks. In addition to the commemorative function, the tower was also intended to serve as an eye-catching focus for those touring the parkland of the Stourhead Estate. In April 1770, when the tower was just 4.7 metres (15 ft) high, Hoare is quoted as saying: 'I hope it will be finished in as happy Times to this Isle as Alfred finished his Life of Glory in then I shall depart in peace.'
The tower was damaged in 1944 when a military plane, a Noorduyn C-64A Norseman, crashed into it, resulting in the death of the five aircrew. The damage was to the highest 10 metres (33 ft) of the left projection looking from the front. The tower was designated as a Grade I listed building in 1961 and was restored in 1986. This included the use of a Wessex helicopter to lower a 300-kilogram (47 st) stone onto the top. The statue of King Alfred, above the door, was also restored at this time, including the replacement of his missing right forearm.
The triangular tower is 49 metres (161 ft) high with a girth of 51 metres (167 ft). Each of the three corners of the triangular structure has a round projection. The centre of the tower is hollow and to stop birds from entering the space a mesh has been added at roof level. The viewing platform, which has a crenellated parapet and offers a view over the surrounding countryside, is reached by a 205-step spiral staircase at the corner furthest from the entrance. The brick tower has Chilmark stone dressings and is surmounted by an embattled parapet.
The 'front' (south-east) face of the tower has a Gothic-arched entrance door, a statue of King Alfred, and a stone panel bearing an inscription (see below). This is the face that most visitors see first when walking from Stourhead garden or from the nearby car park.
Around the Stourhead estate are several inscriptions. The one on the tower was drafted in 1762 and installed in 1772. The stone tablet above the door on the east face of the tower reads:
Extracted and partially rewritten from the Wikipedia, King Alfred’s Tower article.
King Alfred's Tower – also known as Stourton Tower or The Folly of King Alfred the Great – is a folly. It stands at the north-western edge of the Stourhead Estate on Kingsettle Hill. Belonging to the National Trust, it is designated a grade I listed building.
The idea of building the tower originated in 1762. Henry Hoare II planned the tower to commemorate the end of the Seven Years' War against France and the accession of
"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"
The Statue of King Alfred and the plaque beneath
The front (south-east face) of the tower
Rear view of the tower