Alfred's Tower Logo
Aerial Photo

View to the West over Somerset.  This picture copyright Armin Grewe.
Why would anyone make a website about King Alfred's Tower?

The tower is arguably the finest folly in the UK.  No visitor to the top of Kingsettle Hill can fail to be impressed by this wonderful structure.  Those who are fortunate enough to be able to climb to the top on a clear day will enjoy a view to remember.  This site has been created by a nearby resident who can (just) see the tower from his house, and who wishes Alfred's Tower to be recognised as more than just a curiosity on the fringe of the Stourhead Estate.

At the time of writing (March 2003), the National Trust shop at Stourhead sells no pictures, books or souvenirs about the tower, other than a single picture postcard that shows an aerial photograph of the tower (N.B. on 24th April 2004 no postcards were available from the shop).  However a brief information leaflet is available free upon request from the curator at the tower.  In the experience of the author, the National Trust custodians at the tower tend to be keen to help with questions from visitors, and when pressed have a file of articles, photocopies, and extra information that does not appear on the public display boards.

Please note that this web site is privately published and funded as a non-profit public service.  The advertising messages that appear on this site make a small contribution towards its running costs, but it still runs at a loss.  By clicking on the adverts you will help to maintain this site (but we value your opinions: accepting advertising is an experiment; let us know if you think these adverts detract from your enjoyment of the web site). 

National Mistrust?

National Trust signI support the work of the National Trust, and until recently was a member of several years standing.  Since it was first published in 2002, this website has received several complaints from members of the public regarding the attitude of National Trust staff at the Stourhead estate office when responding to telephone queries about King Alfred's Tower.  This website has no connection with the National Trust and cannot comment upon or answer complaints about National Trust staff or the Stourhead estate office, although I always endeavour to reply promptly to all queries and comments about Alfred's Tower itself.  When the idea for this website was conceived I arranged a meeting with the National Trust property manager at Stourhead, explained the purpose of this project, and requested any information or access to knowledgeable staff.  Regrettably no help was forthcoming, and I was subsequently disappointed to learn that the property manager even acted to prevent me obtaining information from a particularly knowledgeable employee.  The reasons for this are baffling.  This attitude is such a contrast to all other individuals and organisations who have been most helpful and encouraging about this project.  The purpose of this website is purely to entertain and inform, and it does not seek to undermine or interfere with the work of the National Trust.

Following the receipt of the complaints described above, in early 2003 I organised a small, unscientific, 'mystery shopper' campaign in which six callers telephoned the Stourhead estate office with various queries about Alfred's Tower.  On one occasion the caller was given the correct information (relating to opening times at the tower), on three occasions the caller was given incorrect information or told to visit her local library or (bizarrely) the local authority planning department (in response to questions about the history of the tower, and the 1944 plane crash), and on two occasions the caller was told that the estate office cannot provide information by telephone.

The author of this site even telephoned the estate office, introduced himself, and offered to point out a minor error in the free information leaflet that was introduced in 2003 and is available to visitors at the tower.  I was informed that nobody knows who wrote the information leaflet, so they weren't interested in my correction.  At least I tried.

The legal bit

The information on this website is provided in good faith and care has been taken to ensure its accuracy.  However no responsibility can be taken for losses arising from errors or omissions in the information provided here.  Before travelling to Alfred's Tower you are advised to confirm the opening times, admission fees and other details by consulting the National Trust Handbook or website.

Please be aware that several of the photographs on this website are reproduced under licence, and most are protected by copyright.  Whilst I generally welcome links and references to this site from other websites, please do not use the text or pictures that appear here without asking for permission first.  Permission will usually be granted for non-profit use, and where appropriate I will contact the copyright owner to seek consent for the use of a specific image.

Technical Information

The seemingly never-ending 205 stairs. This picture copyright Armin Grewe.This site was originally created using Microsoft FrontPage 2000, which is a website creation tool that makes it easy to create a website without understanding HTML or client-side scripting.  However the resulting site was littered with hundreds of files and deploying it on the web server was a nightmare.  Subsequently I migrated the site to a newer version of the same tool, FrontPage 2003.  This had some slight benefits, but for some unknown reason the resulting web pages were no longer indexed by Google, so the site disappeared from Google searches even though other search tools still found it.

In early 2006 the site was completely redeveloped using Microsoft Visual Studio 2005, and upgraded to Visual Studio 2008 during 2008.  It uses the ASP.NET 2.0 menu server control and is built around a single Master page.  Visual Studio is a delightful tool to use, although it is intended primarily for server-side software development rather than purely website creation.  The good news is that Google now includes this site in its index.

At the moment this site is hosted on a Windows 2003 server in the USA.  I presently use an economy hosting package where numerous different sites are run from the same server.  This explains why performance is not particularly fast.  I am experimenting with hosting the site from my home in Stourton over a slow ADSL connection.  This would not give a faster response to visitors to the site but it would be cheaper for me!  Of course the site would then be at risk from power or telephone outages. 

It is my intention that all the pages on this site conform to the W3C standards for XHTML 1.0 Transitional.  Every page is tested against the W3C's validation tool when it is published.  If you notice any errors or areas for improvement in the coding of this site then please tell me.

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This website is published by Chris Nelms.  It was first published on 7th October 2002, and last updated on 7th May 2012.

We welcome your comments and contributions. Please contact us by e-mail at: or use the Feedback form on this site.