Featured image of Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle – History & Architecture

LocationAlnwick, County of Northumberland, England (Google Maps)
Open for VisitorsYes
Owned by12th Duke of Northumberland
Official WebsiteAlnwick Castle
Rooms AvailableYes (Filming)

Alnwick Castle is a spectacular Grade I listed building with picturesque gardens in Northumberland’s heart. It is famous for being the set location for the Harry Potter film series, Downton Abbey, and many other films and Tv series.

Alnwick Castle History

Alnwick Castle Courtyard
Alnwick Castle Courtyard by Mstanyauk, is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

The first parts of the Alnwick Castle were erected by Yves de Vescy, the Baron of Alnwick, in 1096. The structure was built to defend the northern border of England against Scottish invasions and border reivers. However, the castle was besieged in 1172 and 1174 by William the Lion, King of Scotland. William was later captured outside the castle walls during the Battle of Alnwick.

In 1309, the castle was bought from Antony Bek, the Bishop of Durham, by Henry de Percy, 1st Baron Percy. It has been owned by the Percy family, the Earls, and later the Dukes of Northumberland since. The first Percy, lord of Alnwick, restored the castle. The Abbot’s Tower, the Middle Gateway, and the Constable’s Tower survived this period. The Percys have long since been powerful forces in England’s history and delved into political clout and military achievement. One of the most influential members of the Percy family was Harry ‘Hotspur’ Percy, a fierce knight immortalized in Shakespeare’s play Henry IV. However, he died in battle, leading a rebellion against Henry IV in 1403.

Alnwick Castle has seen much action over the years. During the memorable War of Roses, it was jostled between the Yorkists and Lancastrians many times before it was returned to the Percys upon their sworn allegiance to Edward IV.

Various educational establishments have used parts of the castle after the Second World War. Initially, it was used by the Newcastle Church High School for Girls, and from 1945-1975, it was used as a teacher training college. Since 1981, the castle has been used as a branch campus by St. Cloud State University, forming part of its International Study Programme.

Alnwick Castle Architecture

Alnwick Castle state rooms exterior
Alnwick Castle by James West, is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Alnwick Castle is built in the gothic architectural style. The castle has two main rings of buildings. The inner ring is set around a small courtyard and contains the principal rooms. The rooms have been remodelled over the centuries, most notably by the Georgian master architect Robert Adam in the 18th century for Elizabeth, Duchess of Northumberland.

The castle boasts numerous defences, including 2-meter-thick walls, a 7-meter deep moat, two baileys, and thick oak gates. Anthony Salvin restored the exterior medieval castle in the mid-19th century, and it is today one of the finest in Britain. Lavish staterooms with an excellent collection of old Italian masters and sculptures are available inside Alnwick Castle. The grounds surrounding the castle were landscaped by Lancelot “Capability” Brown. He is renowned for creating some of England’s most beautiful landscapes. You can view the characteristic features of his work from the Terrace or Ramparts.

You can explore the castle’s impressive picture collection, chapel, and series of museums showcasing the history of both Alnwick Castle and Northumberland. You can also view the ancient artefacts from the family’s archaeological exploits, such as Pompeii frescoes and ancient Egypt relics.

Alnwick Castle Tickets

You can purchase Alnwick Castle tickets from the official website. You may also buy tickets at the Castle Admission office, which can be upgraded at no additional cost on the day of your visit. The castle tickets do not include access to the Alnwick Garden.
The castle is open every day from 10 am to 5:30 pm.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Alnwick Castle?

Alnwick Castle is situated less than a mile off the A1 in the county of Northumberland in England. The nearest train station is Almouth, a 10-minute drive away, while the nearest bus station is in Alnwick, a 5-minute walk away.

Who owns Alnwick Castle?

Alnwick Castle had been owned by the Percy family for the last 700 years and was home to the 12th Duke and Duchess of Northumberland and their children.

Have you visited this castle before? If yes, why not share some beautiful pictures with us!
You can email us your pictures of the castle at castrumtocastle@gmail.com. Please use the name of the castle in the subject line.
Also, don’t forget to mention your name and social media profile link if you want the credits!

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