The ‘chained oak’ is an old oak tree with heavy chains that is the subject of a popular legend. Allegedly a disgruntled beggarwoman put a curse upon the 15th Earl of Shrewsbury. She was loitering near the lodge gate to his home, Alton Abbey, and as the Earl passed by he shunned her pleas for money. Her revenge was to curse him: for every branch of the oak tree that falls, a member of his family would die. The story has it that the Earl chained the branches of the tree to prevent tragedy befalling the Talbot family.
In recent times, nearby Alton Towers theme park is using the legend to spook guests at the attraction called Hex.
The tree is still there, with time evidently taking its toll on the branches and rusting chains.
Visit the tree and climb the stone steps to the clearing around it. Park at the Forestry Commission Dimmingsdale, between Alton and Oakamoor, and cross the river at Lords Bridge. But beware, some say the tree is still cursed!