Sunday, 26 June 2016

Alnwick Castle

It's been three weeks now since we came back from our Northumberland holidays and I've finally managed to sort through some of the several hundred photos. One of the great things about blogging is that you get to relive all those moments which now seem so distant they might never have happened! There are still all the posts to write but today I have one of our days out to share.

One of the reasons we chose to stay in the small town of Alnwick was its proximity to lots of places we wanted to visit and especially the castle and gardens. The Castle was a mere 10 minute stroll from our cottage. There are a couple of entrances but we approached the Lion Arch via the park.

There have been castles on this site since 1096 though most of what you see is from the 1300s. It has been the home of the Dukes of Northumberland for over 700 years and they still live in part of it (mostly during the winter when the tourists have gone home). Here we're looking at the inner section which houses the State Rooms. We did have a look around those but there was no photography allowed. It was interesting to see the rooms the family does still use, complete with TV and beanbags for the dogs!

There were lots of free tours and activities to sign up for and we chose the location tour: Harry was our guide. He explained that, as the Castle is so pristine, it has proved a popular location for TV and film-makers. It's most famous as being Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films but has also featured in things like Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Blackadder and Downton Abbey.

This is the Inner Bailey. The grass has regularly been dug up to give the rough dirt feel of a medieval castle. I think he said Downton Abbey had filmed in this part (I've never watched it myself).

I do remember that the archway is one of the oldest parts of the castle, dating from Norman times (11th century).

This lantern features towards the end of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves when the evil abbot is pushed from a window in a tower. We were fascinated to hear that his plunge actually featured three different locations. The view as he exits the window was filmed in France, the middle part was Durham Cathedral and it's only the final part that was filmed at Alnwick as he plummets past the lantern. I'll be watching out for it next time I watch the film (one of my favourites).

Out now into the Outer Bailey where the flying lesson in the first Harry Potter was filmed.

The lion carved on the wall is original and the director liked it so much it was kept as the symbol for Gryffindor.

At this point the tour ended and we were left to wander. But what's this?

Why it's Professor Dumbledore! (with broomstick training in the background)

And not only the Professor but Harry Potter himself! They were there to demonstrate some magic.

The young man playing Harry was brilliant and wandered around between performances happily chatting with visitors and posing for photos.

Magic tricks over we strolled along the gun terrace.

At the end was an exhibition to mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of Lancelot 'Capability' Brown who landscaped the surrounding parkland. The lure of the river and fields proved too much so we ended our visit and headed out of the castle.

The Lion Bridge features a statue of the Percy Lion. Percy is the family name of the Dukes of Northumberland and their lion always has a straight tail.

Lovely views down the river Aln.

We strolled along the river through land known as The Pastures.

Tufted ducks

Children were making the most of the hot weather, playing in the weir.

One last look back at the castle before we retraced our steps and headed back to the cottage. The castle is worth a visit though it's relatively small compared to other castles and there's not as much to see as I expected. I'd definitely sign up for all the free activities to get the most from your visit.

Hope you enjoyed that. I have so much more to show you but, for now, I'm off to have breakfast. Enjoy your Sunday. x


  1. Your photos are brilliant and I loved reading about everything that has been filmed there. Dumbledore and Harry would have made it extra special.

  2. It was interesting to see the castle and learn a little about it. We didn't visit the castle when we went to Alnwick but the walks by it look lovely.

  3. I haven't been into the castle only the gardens! LOVED Dumbledore!x

  4. It's lovely to have a look round with you, just been here the once when N2 son was about 4, did't get to see as much then as I would have liked. Our holiday to Northumberlad this year was the first time we have been away without the boys for a whole week !!! It's been lovely to discover things we have missed in the past.
    Amanda xx