Alton Castle

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Date:12th of December 1904

Description:A postcard view of Alton Castle. This postcard was franked at 3.00 PM on 12 December 1904 in Walthamstow and posted to an address in Finsbury Park, London.

The first castle, a medieval structure, was built by Bertram de Verdun in 1175. Part of one of the towers remains in the forecourt of the later nineteenth century building. The 16th Earl of Shrewsbury commissioned A.W.N. Pugin to design the current castle.

It was begun in 1847, and when finished shortly before the Earl's death in 1852 it was a hugely impressive sight, standing four stories’ high with three towers and a chapel. The chapel is the centrepiece of the building, with its roof of coloured tiles, inspired by continental design, and its polygonal apse.

In September 1996 Alton castle was established by the Archdiocese of Birmingham as a Catholic Youth Retreat Centre. The first 15 years were highly successful with over 8,000 children visiting the Castle each year, mostly on residential retreats but with an increasing number coming on day retreats.

In close proximity to the castle is the Hospital of St. John another Pugin commission, begun several years earlier. Of the many projects that Pugin was responsible for, this Hospital and St. Giles R.C. Church in Cheadle were the two that he was most proud of.

The Hospital of St. John was begun in 1840 by Pugin around three sides of a quadrangle, facing Alton Castle. The left range (including the R.C. Chapel of St. John) and half the middle range were completed by 1843. The rest of the Hospital was by either Pugin or Thomas Fradgley of Uttoxeter and was completed by the early 1850s.