Alnwick Castle has been on my ‘to visit’ list for some time now, so on a recent getaway to Northumberland it would have been remiss not to take the opportunity to have a look around!
We were lucky with the weather as it was a beautiful summer’s day, and walking up the path towards the castle I wondered how many people had walked this path before me over the centuries. Alnwick Castle has been around since the Norman period and has long been associated with the Percy family who bought the castle in 1309. The castle is still the Percy family home with the current owner Ralph Percy, the 12th Duke of Northumberland, and his wife Jane developing the castle into a visitor attraction for people to visit and enjoy.
Upon entering the complex, we decided to go into the castle first and it was déjà vu seeing the courtyard which was used in the early Harry Potter films! The castle has been a location choice since 1964 for many films and shows like Downton Abbey and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. It wasn’t possible take photographs inside the castle, which is understandable as it is still a family home, but trust me when I say the art collection was impressive. With paintings, wooden carvings, sculptures and more, it was a feast for the eyes. The most opulent objects I saw were two 17th century cabinets that were originally made for Versailles, home of Louis XIV ‘the Sun King’.
There were stewards throughout the property and they were all full of enthusiasm and knowledge about Alnwick and its history. They ensured social distancing was taking place and rooms didn’t get overcrowded, which made our visit a lot more relaxing as we meandered through the castle. Towards the end of our tour was an exhibition showcasing archival documents from the Percy’s private collection. My personal favourite’s were Robert the Bruce’s seal and an illuminated medieval pedigree of the Percy family.
Back in the sunshine we explored the rest of the property which included 3 small museums dotted around the site: The Fusiliers Museum of Northumberland, Castle Museum and the Constable’s Tower. My favourite was the Fusiliers Museum as it highlighted personal stories of the soldiers, with archival and collection items on display bringing their stories to life. The castle grounds were well kept and the views from the ramparts were spectacular showcasing the beauty of the region.
Alnwick has everything you could want from a heritage trip, with an impressive medieval castle front and centre supported by interesting museums, archives and collections, friendly staff and of course a gift shop! If you’re in the area it’s well worth a visit.
The castle is located in Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 1NG.
If you are planning a visit all the up-to-date information you need to know like opening times, prices and access is available on their website here: https://www.alnwickcastle.com/
Please note tickets are pre-booked only at the present time.
Alnwick Castle Website: https://www.alnwickcastle.com/explore/the-history
* * *