In the county of Staffordshire, England resides the village of Alton. It is best known for its theme park Alton Towers that was constructed around the grounds of the Alton Mansion which had also been known as Alton Towers. The mansion was designed by Augustus Pugin and owned by the Earl of Shrewsbury .
Alton Towers has more that 2.8 million visitors each year. It is the 11th most visited theme park in all of Europe. Also located within its grounds are The Alton Towers Hotel and Spa and Splash Landing Hotel. The theme park is also home to Extraordinary Golf and Conference Centre.
The grounds of the park have a rich history. It dates all the way back to 1000 BC. At this time Bunbary Hill, an iron gate fort, was built on the site. A fortress for Saxon king Ceolred of Mercia was built on the estate in circa 700. Later at an unknown date not long after the Norman Conquest a castle was built there.
Bertram de Verdun was given the estate in the 1100s to reward him for his contributions to the Crusades. Then Thomas De Furnival took over the estate in 1318 when he married Joan de Verdun. In 1406 the estate changed hands again when Sir John Talbot upon his marriage to Lord Furnival's oldest daughter, Maud. During the English Civil War the old castle was destroyed.
Alton Towers itself started as a hunting lodge named Alveton Lodge. There were three floors plus a tower that was part of the original building and is still there today. It was separated into two properties. One was the summer home of the Talbots and the other was rented out.
At the beginning of the 19th Century the 15th Earl, Charles Talbot, started making improvements on the house including the start of the Gardens. Charles Talbot and his wife made it their permanent home in 1814. When the Earl died in 1827 the property was given to his nephew John who then completed the work on the house and garden. Starting in 1839 the estates was open to the public on various dates through out the year.
In 1852 at the passing of the 16th Earl the estate went to his cousin but the cousin died suddenly at the age of 24. Construction was completed to the home in 1856 and no major alterations have been made since.
The estate opened as Alton Towers theme park in 1980 when The Corkscrew roller coaster was installed. The roller coaster was later closed in September 2008. Also installed in 1980 was the Pirate Ship that was later renamed The Blade and the Alpine Bob Sled ride that was closed in 1986. In 1981 the Log Flume was opened and The Black Hole, the park's second coaster, was erected in 1984. Each year the park was added to.
The Tussauds Group purchased the theme park in 1990. Then control changed hands again in 2005 to Dubai International Capital (DIC) when they purchased Tussauds £800 million. Later in 2007 the Tussauds Group was purchased from DIC by Merlin Entertainments for £1billion giving them control of Alton Towers. Nick Leslau and the investment firm he owns Prestbury purchased Alton Towers in July 2007. He now leases the park to Merlin Entertainments who operates the park.
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