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For other uses, see Alnwick (disambiguation).

Coordinates: 55°24′48″N 1°42′25″W / 55.4134°N 1.7069°W / 55.4134; -1.7069

Alnwick and Alnwick Castle - Northumberland - 140804.jpg
The town of Alnwick, nestling behind Alnwick Castle
Alnwick is located in Northumberland
 Alnwick shown within Northumberland
Population 7,950 (2001 census)[1]
OS grid reference NU186129
Unitary authority Northumberland
Ceremonial county Northumberland
Region North East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town ALNWICK
Postcode district NE66
Dialling code 01665
Police Northumbria
Fire Northumberland
Ambulance North East
EU Parliament North East England
UK Parliament Berwick-upon-Tweed
List of places

Alnwick (Listeni/ˈænɨk/ annick) is a market town in north Northumberland, England. The town's population was just over 8,000 at the time of the 2001 census, while the former Alnwick district's population was 31,029.

According to Country Life, October 2002, "Alnwick is the most picturesque market town in Northumberland, and the best place to live in Britain".[2] The town is situated largely on the south bank of the River Aln, 32 miles (51 km) south of Berwick-upon-Tweed and the Scottish border, 5 miles (8 km) inland from the North Sea at Alnmouth and 34 miles (55 km) north of the city of Newcastle upon Tyne.

The town dates back to approximately AD 600, and over the centuries has thrived as an agricultural centre; as the location of Alnwick Castle and home of what were in mediaeval times the most powerful northern barons, the Earls of Northumberland; as a staging post on the Great North Road between Edinburgh and London, and latterly as a modern rural centre cum dormitory town. The fabric of the town centre has changed relatively little and still retains much of its original character; however there has been appreciable growth in size over the last ten years, with a number of housing estates covering what had been pasture, and new factory and trading estate developments along the roads to the south of the town.


Further information: History of Northumberland

The history of Alnwick is the history of the castle and its lords, from the days of Gilbert Tyson, variously known as Tison, Tisson, and De Tesson, one of the Conqueror's standardbearers, upon whom this northern estate was bestowed, until the present time. After being held by the family of De Vesci (of which the modern rendering is Vasey – a name found all over south-east Northumberland) for over two hundred years, it passed into the hands of the house of Percy in 1309.

At various points in the town are memorials of the constant wars between Percys and Scots in which so many Percys spent the greater part of their lives. A cross near Broomhouse Hill across the river from the castle marks the spot where Malcolm III of Scotland was killed in 1093, during the first Battle of Alnwick. At the side of the broad shady road called Ratten Row, leading from the West Lodge to Bailiffgate, a tablet of stone marks the spot where William the Lion of Scotland was captured in 1174, during the second Battle of Alnwick by a party of about four hundred mounted knights, led by Ranulf de Glanvill; and there are many others of similar interest.

Hulne Priory, outside the town walls and within Hulne Park, the Duke's walled estate, was a monastery founded in the 13th century by the Carmelites; it is said that the site was chosen for some slight resemblance to Mount Carmel where the order originated. Substantial ruins remain.

In 1314, Sir John Felton was governor of Alnwick.[3] In the winter of 1424, much of the town was burnt by a Scottish raiding party. Again, in 1448, the town was burnt by a Scottish Army led by William Douglas, 8th Earl of Douglas, and George Douglas, 4th Earl of Angus.

In 1968 work started on the Alnwick by-pass, intended to remove the A1 London – Edinburgh trunk road from the heart of the town to its outer edge.[4] This bypass is now complete.


Alnwick lies at 55°25′00″N 01°42′00″W / 55.41667°N 1.70000°W / 55.41667; -1.70000 (55.417, -1.700)1. The River Aln forms its unofficial northern boundary. Historically, the town was partly within the Bamburgh Ward and Coquetdale Ward and later included in the East Division of Coquetdale Ward in 1832.[5]


Barter Books in Alnwick.

Formerly a largely rural and agrarian community, the town now lies well within the "travel to work" radius of Morpeth and Newcastle Upon Tyne and has a sizeable commuter population. Some major or noteworthy employers in the town include:

  • Metrology Software Products Ltd, Developers and suppliers of coordinate measuring machine and machine tool software
  • House of Hardy, makers of fly-fishing tackle.
  • Greys of Alnwick, makers of fly-fishing tackle.
  • Northumberland Estates, which manages the Duke of Northumberland's agricultural, forestry and property interests.
  • Barter Books, one of the largest second-hand book shops in England, set in the town's former railway station.
  • Sanofi Alnwick Research Centre, a very large pharmaceutical research and testing centre.
  • Tagish Ltd, an independent company specialising in the delivery of ICT solutions and consultancy.
  • Wm Morrison Supermarkets Plc
  • Sainsbury's Plc
  • George F White, North East based company with its head office in the centre of Alnwick since 1979
  • Proudlock House & Home, retailer of gifts, cookware, home furnishings, gardening, housewares and hardware.
  • NFU Mutual, provider of insurance, pensions, investments.
  • DEFRA (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs).
  • Skin Salveation manufacturers and distributors of skin care products


The town's greatest building is Alnwick Castle, one of the homes the Duke of Northumberland, and site of The Alnwick Garden; it dominates the west of the town, above the River Aln. The Castle is the hub of a number of commercial, educational and tourism operations. From 1945 to 1975, it was the location of a teacher training college for young women and "mature students" (persons of more than 21 years in age). Currently, it houses American students studying in Europe through a partnership with Saint Cloud State University; is the base of Northumberland Estates, the Duke's commercial enterprise; and is in its own right a tourist attraction. The castle is open from April to September, and the Gardens all year around. It is the second largest inhabited castle in England, after Windsor. Benjamin Disraeli describes Alnwick as 'Montacute' in his novel Tancred.

Alnwick marketplace at night

The centre of town is the marketplace, with its market cross, and the relatively modern Northumberland Hall, used as a meeting place. Surrounding the marketplace are the main shopping streets, Narrowgate, Fenkle Street, and Bondgate Within. The last of these is a wide, spacious road fronted by attractive commercial buildings. In mediaeval times, Alnwick was a walled town (although fluctuating economic situations in the Middle Ages meant the walls were never completed), and one remain—Hotspur Tower, a mediaeval gate—is extant, dividing Bondgate Within from Bondgate Without, and restricting vehicles to a single lane used alternately in each direction. Pottergate Tower, at the other side of the town, also stands on the site of an ancient gate, but the tower itself was rebuilt in the 18th century. Its ornate spire was destroyed in a storm in 1812. Outside the line of the walls, the old railway station building is relatively ostentatious for such a small town, arising out of its frequent use by royal travellers visiting the Duke and Alnwick Castle. It is now a large secondhand bookshop.

The town has a thriving playhouse, a multi-purpose arts centre, which stages a hectic programme of theatre, dance, music, cinema, and visual arts exhibitions. In a building nearby sits the offices of a weekly local newspaper—the Northumberland Gazette.

In 2003, the Willowburn Sports and Leisure Centre was opened on the southern outskirts of the enlarged town (replacing the old sports centre located by the Lindisfarne Middle School and the now-demolished Youth Centre). More widely, the Alnwick district boasts a wealth of sporting and leisure facilities, including football, cricket, rugby, rambling, rock climbing, water sports, cycling and horse riding. Golfers can find thirteen golf courses within 30 minutes drive of the town.

The castle is popular with film-makers: Harry Potter; Blackadder and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves are some of the films shot here.

Alnwick has its own museum, Bailiffgate Museum whose collection is specifically dedicated to local social history. The collection includes a variety of agricultural objects, domestic items, railway items, coal mining artefacts, printing objects, a sizable photographic collection, paintings and the bound volumes of The Northumberland Gazettes.[6] Local artist Stella Vine donated 3 of her paintings to the museum, as she had grown up in Alnwick.

Other places of interest in and near the town include:

Brizlee Tower, a folly and observation platform overlooking Hulne Park, the Duke of Northumberand's walled estate by Alnwick Castle



Major events in the Alnwick calendar include:

  • A Shrove Tuesday football match, known as Scoring the Hales is played in the Pastures (the fields below the castle) between the parishes of St. Paul and St. Michaels. The ball is fetched from Alnwick Castle in procession, preceded by the Duke of Northumberland's piper. The game is won by whichever team is first to score two "hales" or goals.

The Alnwick Fair was an annual costumed event, formerly held each summer from 1969 to 2007, recreating some of appearance of medieval trading fairs and 17th century agricultural fairs. It has recently been discontinued.[7]



Bondgate Tower

Alnwick town lies adjacent to the A1, the main national north/south trunk road, providing easy access to Newcastle upon Tyne (35 miles (56 km) south) and to the Scottish capital Edinburgh (80 miles (130 km) north). The town is an 'A1 Town', there are several such similar towns in the North of England such as (North to South), Berwick Upon Tweed (28.1 miles North), Morpeth (28.3 miles South), Newton Aycliffe (65.1 miles South) and Wetherby (116 miles South). Being such a stopping point on the A1 (particularly in such a rural area) provides Alnwick with a lot of passing trade and tourism.


The main East Coast railway link between Edinburgh (journey time approximately 1:10) and London (journey time approximately 3:45) runs via the nearby Alnmouth for Alnwick Station, with a weekday service of 15 trains per day north to Edinburgh and 13 trains per day south to London. Despite its name, Alnmouth Station is located at the western end of the village of Hipsburn, near to the hamlet of Bilton. It also serves the village of Lesbury.

Alnwick was once connected to the main line by the Alnwick branch line, but this was closed in January 1968 during the time of the Beeching Axe. Due to the efforts of the Aln Valley Railway Trust, the branch line is to be reopened in the near future as a heritage railway. The Alnwick terminus, called Lionheart station, is located near the Lionheart Enterprise Estate on the outskirts of the town rather than on the site of the original Alnwick railway station closer to the town centre. The building of the A1 bypass makes reopening the section of the line leading into the town centre unviable.


Newcastle Airport lies around 45 minutes drive-time away, and provides 19 daily flights to London (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and London City), with regular flights to other UK centres. The airport also operates regular flights to many European destinations, along with destinations in Africa and North America. Newcastle Airport is the nearest, however for alternative flights, Edinburgh Airport, Manchester Airport and Leeds Bradford Airport are all within 150 miles (240 km).

Town twinning[edit]

Notable people[edit]

Born in Alnwick[edit]

Died in Alnwick[edit]


  1. ^ Office for National Statistics: Neighbourhood Statistics
  2. ^ [1], Country Life Magazine.
  3. ^ http://www.archive.org/stream/dictionarynatio23stepgoog#page/n321/mode/1up p.309
  4. ^ "News and Views: A1 Alnwick by-pass". Autocar: page 57. 15 February 1968. 
  5. ^ George Tate, The History of the Borough, Castle, and Barony of Alnwick (Vol. 1). Alnwick: Henry Hunter Blair, 1866.
  6. ^ [2], Retrieved 23 December 2008.
  7. ^ http://www.northumberlandgazette.co.uk/news/Death-of-the-Fair.3777345.jp Death of Alnwick Fair, retrieved 2010 August 23

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alnwick — Please support Wikipedia.
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2123 news items


Mon, 01 Sep 2014 03:37:10 -0700

A councillor who suffered serious injuries in an accident while riding his motorbike has spoken of his mixed emotions following the crash. Gordon Castle, who represents Alnwick on Northumberland County Council and works at Barter Books, was involved in ...

The Journal

The Journal
Mon, 25 Aug 2014 04:09:08 -0700

The wife of a councillor injured in a serious road collision has said she expects him to be back on his bike once he is better. Gordon Castle, the wife of who represents Alnwick on Northumberland County Council and is a town councillor, was involved in ...


Mon, 04 Aug 2014 05:23:47 -0700

Streets outside Alnwick Castle were dusted with white as wintry scenes of the period drama are captured. The cast and crew of the popular ITV show have been in the Northumberland town for a week, filming at the home of the Duke and Duchess of ...
Northumberland Gazette
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 09:30:00 -0700

Alnwick put the brakes on a hat-trick of defeats in their Northern League Division Two campaign with victory over Billingham this afternoon. The black 'n' whites were back on home ground to take on Billingham, who are struggling towards the foot of the ...


Tue, 26 Aug 2014 00:09:39 -0700

After he went to investigate Mr Weatheritt, of Abbey Lands, Alnwick, came face to face with a man dressed in full military fatigues and a mask with a gun slung across his back. Despite the danger the 64-year-old said his immediate thought was to ...


The Journal
Sun, 10 Aug 2014 04:10:07 -0700

One of the main stars of ITV's Downton Abbey smiled for the crowds as filming came to an end in Alnwick. Cast and crew from the popular ITV period drama have been in the Northumberland town for almost two weeks to shoot this year's Christmas special.
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 11:16:43 -0700

Jim was with his kids, holidaying in the North East, something he has done since he was a child himself. “Obviously we haven't played Alnwick Castle before but I remember being there with kids when they were wee,” he tells me. “Even when I was wee we ...

Daily Mail

Daily Mail
Tue, 05 Aug 2014 14:08:04 -0700

Alnwick Castle in Northumberland took a step back in time today as members of the cast of Downton Abbey filmed scenes in the grounds of the iconic building. The castle famously doubled as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter film franchise - and the Grade I ...

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