• The Gothic Prospect Tower

    The Gothic Prospect Tower is situated on Thompson’s Rock at the far end of the garden Valley. It has been referred to as the Chinese Temple, as its style of construction has been mistaken for Oriental, probably due to its tiered storeys, which are partially reminiscent of those to be found on pagodas. However, the overall design, including particularly the arches and columns, are very much those resembling the gothic style. The Gothic Prospect Tower was designed by Robert Abraham, under the direction of 15th Earl Charles, and would have been completed around about the mid 1820s. It was constructed from a mix of stone, and iron that was cast at the Britannia Foundry in Derby, and finished with gold leaf to pick out the finer features.

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    From top, left and right. The Gothic Prospect Tower Pictured at the turn of the 19th Century: The Tower seen situated at the head of the garden valley in the 1960s, and a people standing on and near the plinth in fornt of the Tower, in the 1960s. 

    Michael Fisher, in his book, Alton Towers: A Gothic Wonderland, states how it is would perhaps have been a favourite feature of Charles, as he had a miniature marble replica commissioned, which he had situated in the entrance-hall of Alton Abbey at the time. Certainly its situation  in the gardens is a prime position that is not only observable from most aspects of the garden, but, from the location itself, the viewer has the most scenic vantage point to view the gardens in all their splendour, crowned to the opposite end by the Towers themselves. So fond must Charles have been of this particular vantage that originally his monument, the ‘Choragic Monument’ was positioned, by his nephew the 16th Earl, John, on a plinth immediately in front of it, with Charles’ bust looking out over his garden creation. However, subsequent custodians had the Choragic Monument moved to its current position at the opposite end of the garden valley, so as not to impede the view either up to, or from the Tower. Modern day visitors now stand on the plinth to get the view that Charles himself would have been so proud of. Up the latter 1970s, the Gothic Prospect Tower was open to visitors, who would climb up its spiral stairs to gain an even more privileged view of the vista it commands. Nowadays it remains locked for reasons of heath and safety, but also in order to protect and preserve it.  

    © Dr Gary Kelsall, 2007