Youth Services – Alton Castle Youth Retreat Centre
Alton CastleAlton Castle opened in September 1996 as a residential youth centre. It has had a highly successful first few years with over 5,000 children visiting the Castle each year. It’s popularity can be put down to the fact that the Castle is offering a unique experience that meets a real need within schools and community youth groups within the Midlands.
The first impression of the children is one of wonder and awe. It has atmosphere, style and is evocative of the historic times in which it played a significant part in Staffordshire. The building can comfortably accommodate 70 young people, plus teachers or adults and part of which is a self-contained Hostel that can accommodate 16 people.
The impressive main hall is used as the dining area and has a rib vaulted ceiling with stained glass windows and medieval style banqueting tables. There are 4 large meeting rooms, a games room in the dungeon, a crypt and a number of resident bats! The whole building has been newly re-furbished with a large fully equipped kitchen, run by an excellent Chef.
It is not purpose built. It is not functional. It is not easy to maintain, to heat or to find your way around, but it is worth all the trouble because it is an extraordinary place. It is a Gothic style castle building, designed by Pugin who is famous for his work on The Houses of Parliament. It is a Listed Building, set within the grounds of a medieval castle part of which is Grade I listed. The Castle sits on top of a hill overlooking the Churnet Valley and has spectacular views, including some of the towers at Alton Towers.
On entering the grounds, you have to cross a bridge over a moat into an area that was once the home of one of Richard I’s leading knights. It was also possibly one of the scenes of battles involving Cromwell during the English Civil War. With its towers and multi-coloured roof, the present building is in the style of a Rhineland Castle.
The grounds comprise 43 acres of land, 13 acres of which is a field, the other 30 acres being woodland that is used as nature trails by the youth centre. A mile of the River Churnet runs through the land.
Vist the Alton Castle web site at www.altoncastle.co.uk