The picturesque town of Alnwick (pronounced Annick), is the ancient seat of the Percy family who's ancestors, (Earls of Northumberland), ruled northern England for 200 years. The town is dominated by the massive Alnwick Castle, which is still the home of the Dukes of Northumberland.
The pleasant town has many good Georgian buildings and the old Town Hall has shops in its arcaded ground floor. The only surviving gateway to the town is the Hotspur Tower, built by the 2nd Earl in 1450. St Michael's church mirrors the castle with its battlemented tower, and preserves some of the best 15th century ecclesiastical workmanship in the county. It houses several fine monuments and a 14th century Flemish carved chest.
The ruins of Alnwick Abbey stand on the outskirts of the town to the north and include a well-preserved 14th century gatehouse. Also 3 miles north-west of Alnwick, in Hulne Park, stand the remains of the 13th-century Hulne Priory.
2 The Shambles, Alnwick. NE66 1TN - Tel: 01665 511 333
The castle which began as a simple Norman motte and bailey and was replaced in the 12th century by a stone fortress. The castle fell into decay after the border wars, and was restored in the 18th century by Robert Adam. During the 19th century, the 4th Duke of Northumberland transformed the castle into a great country house. The interior is decorated in a fine Italian Renaissance style and contains paintings by Canaletto, Tintoretto, Van Dyke and Titian.
The castle ranks as one of the most magnificent medieval fortresses in the country. The gateway is guarded by an impressive Barbican, and the outline of its massive keep, walls and towers completely dominates the town's horizon. Parts of the castle are open to the public, including the Constable's Tower, the Postem Tower, the keep, and many of its exquisitely furnished state rooms.
Opening times: Apr~Oct: daily 10am - 6pm Admission Charge
Location: NE66 1NQ (off A1 on outskirts of town, follow brown signs) Website
A fantastic 12-acre contemporary garden recently created by Belgian designers. This unique project has transformed a derelict and forgotten plot into a beautiful landscape. The garden includes one of the largest wooden tree houses in the world, a Poison Garden, a Labyrinth and Serpent Garden.
Opening times: Apr, May & Oct, daily 10-6; Jun-Sep daily, 10-7; Nov-
Mar daily 10-4 Admission Charge
Location: Denwick Lane (in centre of Alnwick) NE66 1YU - Tel: 01665 511350 Website