Category: Weird Articles
Published on Monday, 07 April 2014 00:00
In a small woodlands near the village of Alton in Staffordshire, England, there stands an old Oak tree mysteriously and ominously shackled in heavy, metal chains. The story behind the chained Oak tree is a sinister and chilling one. Legend has it that the tree's fate is tied in to a family a long time ago who had the misfortune of incurring the wrath of an old witch.
The 19th century legend goes that on a warm, autumn night, the Earl of Shrewsbury was returning to his home at Alton Towers in a horse-drawn carriage when an old woman suddenly appeared in the middle of the road, blocking the path. The old woman went up to the coach and begged for a coin, the Earl cruelly dismissed her and ordered her off his land. The old woman angrily called after him as he went along on his way, “For every branch on the Old Oak Tree here that falls, a member of the Earl’s family will die.”
The Earl initially paid the curse no heed and promptly forgot about it. However, later that same night, a violent storm raged and caused a single branch from the old oak tree to break and fall off, and the Earl's son mysteriously died from an unknown ailment. The devastated Earl finally believed that the curse was real and he ordered his servants to chain up every branch on the tree to prevent any from falling. To this day, the old Oak tree still remains tightly chained up.
There are slight variations to this old folklore. One version states that it was an old man who cursed the earl, not a woman. Another version suggests that instead of a storm snapping off a branch, the Earl's son was out riding the next day after the curse was recited, and as he passed by the old oak tree, the old woman was standing under the tree and a branch fell directly on him, knocking him off his horse and killing him. It is said that the latter seems more plausible as there have been many records of riding accidents during that time.
In fact, various elements of the original story seems to have a factual basis, like for example, the old oak tree does still exist in this time and age, and it was once situated beside a roadway the Earl would have frequented to get to the nearby church.
The Talbot family are descendents to the aforementioned Earl and in 2007, one of the tree's main branches fell off. The family was consulted but they confirmed that no one passed away. Perhaps the curse had been lifted from the passing passage of time. Since then, a considerable proportion of the chained oak has collapsed. It is thought that one of the chains which the tree has grown into and have become integral to the tree's structure, rusted through resulting in the collapse of part of the lower side of the tree.
Whether the curse of the old Oak tree is true or not, you got to admit that the tree just in photos alone is a pretty spooky and eerie sight to behold. Share this creepy legend with your friends and family!