Alnwick Castle is a castle and manor house in Alnwick, County of Northumberland, England (United Kingdom) and is the residence of the Dukes of Northumberland, built immediately after the Norman conquest, renovated and remodeled several times, in Gothic style.
Yves de Vescy, baron of Alnwick, erected the first part of the castle in 1096. It was built to defend the English borders to the north, preventing the invasions of the Scots. It was besieged in 1172 and again in 1174 by William “the Lion” of Scotland, but the Scottish ruler himself was captured just outside the castle walls during the Battle of Alnwick. In 1309 the castle was sold by Anthony Bek, bishop of Durham to Henry de Percy, 1st baron Percy and then became the property of the Percy family, counts and then dukes of Northumberland who currently own them. Alnwick’s first lord Percy restored the castle and Abbot’s Tower, the Middle Gateway and Constable’s Tower which survive to the present day. In 1404-1405 the Percy rebelled against King Henry IV, who besieged and took the castle.
During the War of the Two Roses the castle was owned by Edward IV of England until its surrender in the middle of September 1461 after the Battle of Towton, becoming the subject of new disputes in the path of war.
From May 1463 Alnwick passed into the hands of the Lancasters for the third time. After Montagu’s triumph in the battles of Hedgeley Moor and Hexham in 1464, Warwick arrived in Alnwick on June 23 and obtained the surrender of the castle the following day.
Henry Percy, 6th Earl of Northumberland restored the castle during the 16th century. In the second half of the eighteenth century Robert Adam made other alterations to the structure: the interiors were largely gothic on the model of other English castles, a style not entirely typical for Adam who was used to working on the neoclassical style. However, in the nineteenth century, Algernon Percy, 4th Duke of Northumberland replaced many of these interiors with less lavish furnishings designed by Anthony Salvin. However, still today we can admire much of the work done by Adam that remains in the main rooms, some of which have been decorated in Italian style during the Victorian era by Luigi Canina.
Since the Second World War, parts of the castle have been used to house educational facilities: from 1945 to 1975 the Newcastle Church High School for Girls functioned here and then was used until 1981 by St. Cloud State University.
The castle was a backdrop for a large number of TV series and films. Among the best-known films are:
1950s: The Adventures of Robin Hood , 1954: Prince Eisenherz , 1971: Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland , 1991: Robin Hood – King of Thieves
1998: Elizabeth , 2001: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone , 2002: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets , 2004: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
2009: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince , 2010: Robin Hood , 2010: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows , 2014: Downton Abbey (season 5)
2015: Downton Abbey (season 6) , 2017: Transformers: The Last Knight
The Dukes of Northumberland still inhabit the castle, but only a part of it. Since World War II, other parts of the castle have been used as teaching centers: first, by the Institute of Girls of the Church of Newcastle, then between 1945 to 1975, teacher training school, and since 1981, for San Cloud State University as a branch of its campus dedicated to the International Studies Program.
Special exhibitions are held on the perimeter towers of the castle. The Postern Tower, shows an exhibition about the Dukes of Northumberland and their interest in archeology, includes the frescoes of Pompeii, relics of ancient Egypt and Anglo-Roman objects. The Condestable Tower houses a sample similar to the local exhibition of “The Tenacious Volunteers of Percy”, it shows the resistance offered by soldiers who were volitional to Napoleon’s plan to carry out an invasion between 1789 and 1814. The Tower of the Abad houses the Northumberland Fusilier Regiment Museum ..
Other facilities open to the public include Knight’s Quest (formerly Knight’s School), Dragons Quest, the souvenir shop, the cafeteria and patio restaurant; and The Castle Sanctuary.
The castle is open to the public all summer. After Windsor Castle, it is the second largest inhabited castle in England. The castle was in the tenth position of the survey of the English Association of visitors to historical places, with 195,504 visitors in 2006.
Access : Coordinates: 55.41575, -1.70607 / from Edinburgh by public transport. You will have to take a train to the town of Alnmouth (1 h) and, from there, a local bus to the town of Alnwick (15 min).
The castle is less than 10 minutes walk from the town center. Calculate the route and schedules on the TravelineScotland website.
Accessibility. Only some parts of the castle are wheelchair accessible. In others there are cobblestones, grass with slopes and, to access the Gun Terrace, you have to go down some stairs.
- The Alnwick Castle consists of the castle and its grounds and opens only from April to October. If you travel in winter, you will not be able to visit it.
- The Alnwick Garden is a huge garden that extends next to the castle and opens all year.The Alnwick Garden is a complex of formal gardens adjacent to the castle built in 1750. The gardens have a long history under the command of the Dukes of Northumberland, but they fell into disrepair until it revived at the beginning of the 21st century. During World War II, the garden was handed over to the State and provided food to the most devastated population, but shortly after the austerity of the 20th century caused the garden to fall into disuse. It was closed as a cultivation garden in 1950.
- The Bailiffgate Museum : Very close to the exit of the Alnwick Castle through the Bailiffgate gate, another of the town’s attractions awaits you: the Bailiffgate Museum.
- Alnwick Castle is the guardian of one of only three fully preserved English longbow, not derived from archaeological finds (time capsules). It comes from the Battle of Hedgeley Moor (1464) during the Wars of the Roses and was preserved by the owners of the castle over the centuries.
Opening hours: Alnwick Castle is open daily between 29th March – 27th October 2019 : Castle grounds and museums (last entry 3.45pm) 10.00am – 5.30pm / State Rooms (last entry 4.00pm) 10.30am – 4.30pm /
Artisans Courtyard (last entry 4.30pm) 10.00am – 5.00pm / Gift Shop 10.00am – 5.00pm / Courtyard Cafe 10.00am – 5.00pm / Armoury Takeaway 10.30am – 4.00pm /
Stables Fryery 11.30am – 3.00pm / Fusiliers Museum & Gift Shop 11.00am – 5.00pm / State Room Shop 11.00am – 4.00pm
Facilities : Castle grounds and museums / State Rooms / Artisans Courtyard / Gift Shop / Courtyard Cafe / Armoury Takeaway / Stables Fryery / Fusiliers Museum & Gift Shop / State Room Shop
Entrance fees : Castle Adult – £15.05 (£16.75 at the gate) / Castle Concession – £12.15 (£13.50 at the gate) / Castle Child (5-16yrs) – £7.95 (£8.85 at the gate) / Castle Child (4yrs and under)- Free / Castle Family (2 adults and up to 4 children)- £41.15 (£45.75 at the gate)
Activities : Alnwick Castle activities : such as Dragon Quest, broom flight classes, tours / sightseeing / photo opportunities / sign up for one of the broom flight classes that the Alnwick Castle organizes in the courtyard (free) / Tour Harry Potter
Go next : explore Alnwick Town / Edinburgh / Berwick / upon / Tweed / Morpeth / Newcastle / Tyne