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Alnwick Castle
Medieval Castle in England

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Alnwick Castle is a castle and stately home in Alnwick, Northumberland, England, UK and the residence of the Duke of Northumberland, built following the Norman conquest, and renovated and remodelled a number of times.

It is a Grade I listed building with spectacular gardens.

The castle has been used in many films and television programmes.

Special exhibitions are housed in three of the castle's perimeter towers. The Postern Tower, as well as featuring an exhibition on the Dukes of Northumberland and their interest in archaeology, includes frescoes from Pompeii, relics from Ancient Egypt and Romano-British objects. Constable's Tower houses military displays like the Percy Tenantry Volunteers exhibition, local, volunteer soldiers raised to repel Napoleon's planned invasion in the period 1798–1814. The Abbot's Tower houses the Regimental Museum of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers.

Other facilities open to the public including Knight's Quest (formerly Knight's School), Dragons Quest, the Gift Shop, the Courtyard Cafe and restaurant; The Sanctuary at the Castle.

The castle is used as a stand in for the exterior and interior of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films (though the wide angle images are computer generated). It has previously been a location used in Becket, Blackadder; Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and many others (see below).

The castle is open to the public throughout the summer. After Windsor Castle, it is the second largest inhabited castle in England. The castle was rated 10th in the Historic Houses Association English Visitor Attractions Survey, with 195,504 visitors in 2006.





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Alnwick Castle
Northumberland NE66 1NQ

Telephone from the UK: 01665 510777
Telephone from the US: 010 44 1665 510777
Telephone from France: 00 44 1665 510777
Telephone from other countries: +44 (0)1665 510777


Google map showing the location of Alnwick Castle


Google map showing Alnwick Castle



Yves de Vescy, Baron of Alnwick, erected the first parts of the castle in 1096. It was built to defend England's northern border against the Scottish invasions and border reivers.

It was besieged in 1172 and again in 1174 by William the Lion, King of Scotland and William was captured outside the walls during the Battle of Alnwick.

In 1309 it was bought from Antony Bek the Bishop of Durham by Henry de Percy, 1st Baron Percy and it hassince then been owned by the Percy family, the Earls and later Dukes of Northumberland . The first Percy lord of Alnwick restored the castle and the Abbot's Tower, the Middle Gateway and the Constable's Tower survive from this period. In 1404–5 the Percys rebelled against Henry IV, who besieged and then took the castle.

During the Wars of the Roses it was held against King Edward until its surrender in mid-September 1461 after the Battle of Towton. Re-captured by Sir William Tailboys during the winter he surrendered to Hastings, Sir John Howard and Sir Ralph Grey of Heton in late July 1462. Grey was appointed captain but surrendered after a sharp siege in the early autumn. King Edward responded with vigour and when the Earl of Warwick arrived in November Queen Margaret and her French advisor, Pierre de Brézé were forced to sail to Scotland for help. They organised a mainly Scots relief force which, under George Douglas, 4th Earl of Angus and de Brézé, set out on 22 November. Warwick's army, commanded by the experienced Earl of Kent and the recently pardoned Lord Scales, prevented news getting through to the starving garrisons. As a result the nearby Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh castles soon agreed terms and surrendered. But Hungerford and Whittingham held Alnwick until Warwick was forced to withdraw when de Breze and Angus arrived on 5 January 1463.

The Lancastrians missed a chance to bring Warwick to battle instead being content to retire, leaving behind only a token force which surrendered next day.

By May 1463 Alnwick was in Lancastrian hands for the third time since Towton, betrayed by Grey of Heton who tricked the commander, Sir John Astley. Astley was imprisoned and Hungerford resumed command.

After Montagu's triumphs at Hedgeley Moor and Hexham in 1464 Warwick arrived before Alnwick on 23 June and received its surrender next day.

The 6th Earl of Northumberland carried out renovations in the 16th century. In the second half of the 18th century Robert Adam carried out many alterations. The interiors were largely in a Strawberry Hill gothic style not at all typical of his work, which was usually neoclassical.

In the 19th century Algernon, 4th Duke of Northumberland replaced much of this with less ostentatious architecture designed by Anthony Salvin. According to the official website a large amount of Adam's work survives, but little or none of it remains in the principal rooms shown to the public, which were redecorated in an opulent Italianate style in the Victorian era by Luigi Canina.

Since the Second World War, parts of the castle have been used by various educational establishments: Firstly, by the Newcastle Church High School for Girls then, from 1945 to 1975, as a teacher training college and, since 1981, by St. Cloud State University as a branch campus forming part of their International Study Programme.






The castle consists of two main rings of buildings. The inner ring is set around a small courtyard and contains the principal rooms. This structure is at the centre of a large bailey. As the central block was not large enough to contain all the accommodations required in later centuries, a large range of buildings was constructed along the south wall of the bailey. These two main areas of accommodation are connected by a link building. There are towers at regular intervals along the walls of the outer bailey. About a sixth of the bailey wall has been reduced almost to ground level on the bailey side to open up views into the park. Stable and service yards adjoin the castle outside the bailey; these would not have existed when the castle still had a military function.

Alnwick Castle has two parks. Immediately to the north of the castle is a relatively small park straddling the River Aln which was landscaped by Lancelot Brown ("Capability Brown") and Thomas Call in the 18th century; it is known locally as The Pastures. Nearby is the much larger Hulne Park, which contains the remains of Hulne Priory.

The castle is in good repair and used for many purposes. It provides a home for the present Duke and family and offices for Northumberland Estates, which manages the Duke's extensive farming and property holdings.

Adjacent to the castle, the present Duchess of Northumberland has initiated the establishment of The Alnwick Garden, a formal garden set around a cascading fountain. The garden belongs to a charitable trust which is separate from the Northumberland Estates, but the Duke of Northumberland donated the 42-acre (17 ha) site and £9 million.





Film Location For:

Becket (1964)    

Mary, Queen of Scots (1971)    

Count Dracula. BBC TV production (1977)    

The Spaceman and King Arthur (1979)    

Ivanhoe (1982)    

Black Adder. (1983)    TV. first of the Blackadder series

Robin of Sherwood (1984)    TV (1984-86)

The Timekeeper (1990)    

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)    

The Dwelling Place (1994)    TV

The Famous Five (1995)    The BBC TV series (1995-6)

The Glass Virgin. (1995)    TV

Ivanhoe. (1997)    BBC TV series

Elizabeth (1998)    

Monk Dawson (1998)    

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)    

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)    

Bloody Britain. (2004)    Discovery TV Channel production

The Virgin Queen (2005)    TV

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)    

Robin Hood (2010)    









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