The town of Alnwick, nestling behind Alnwick Castle (August 2004)
|Population||8,116 (2011 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
The town is 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 Newcastle upon Tyne.
The town dates to about AD 600 and thrived as an agricultural centre. Alnwick Castle was the home of the most powerful medieval northern baronial family, the Earls of Northumberland. It was a staging post on the Great North Road between Edinburgh and London. The town centre has changed relatively little, but the town has seen some growth, with several housing estates covering what had been pasture and new factory and trading estate developments along the roads to the south.
The history of Alnwick is the history of the castle and its lords, starting with Gilbert Tyson, written variously as "Tison", "Tisson", and "De Tesson", one of William the Conqueror's standard-bearers, upon whom this northern estate was bestowed. It was held by the De Vesci family (now spelt "Vasey" – a name found all over south-east Northumberland) for over 200 years and then 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 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 stone tablet marks the spot where William the Lion of Scotland was captured during the second Battle of Alnwick by a party of about 400 mounted knights, led by Ranulf de Glanvill.
Hulne Priory, outside the town walls in Hulne Park, the Duke of Northumberland'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.
In 1314, Sir John Felton was governor of Alnwick. In winter 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. There was a Church of Scotland congregation in Alnwick in the 17th and 18th centuries.
A Royal Air Force distribution depot was constructed at Alnwick during the Second World War with four main fuel storage tanks (total capacity 1700 tons) and road and rail loading facilities. The tanks were above ground and surrounded by concrete. The site was closed in the 1970s, and its demolition and disposal were completed in 1980.
Historically, the town was partly within the Bamburgh Ward and Coquetdale Ward and later included in the East Division of Coquetdale Ward in 1832. Alnwick Town Hall was the home of the common council of Alnwick. By the time of the 2011 Census, an electoral ward covering only part of Alnwick parish existed. The total population of this ward was 4,766.
Some major or noteworthy employers in the town are:
- Barter Books, one of the largest second-hand bookshops in England, set in the town's former railway station
- Sanofi Alnwick Research Centre, a large pharmaceutical research and testing centre
- NFU Mutual, provider of insurance, pensions, investments
- DEFRA (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs)
In 2003, the Willowburn 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).
Alnwick's museum, Bailiffgate Museum, is close to the Bailiffgate entrance to the castle. Its collection is specifically dedicated to local social history. The museum has recently had a major refit funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Its collection includes a variety of agricultural objects, domestic items, railway items, coal mining artefacts, printing objects, a sizeable photographic collection, paintings and a range of activities for children.
Other places of interest in and near the town include:
- Brizlee Tower, a Grade I listed folly tower on a hill in Hulne Park, the Duke's walled estate, designed by Robert Adam in 1777 and erected in 1781 for Hugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland.
- Camphill Column, an 1814 construction celebrating British victories in Europe, and possibly erected as a reaction against the French Revolution.
- the Bondgate Tower, also known as the Hotspur Tower, part of the remains of the ancient town wall and named after Sir Henry Percy, also called Harry Hotspur, the eldest son of the 1st Earl of Northumberland.
- The Nelson Memorial, Swarland, emphasising a local link to the admired Admiral.
- the Tenantry Column—much in the style of Nelson's Column, 83 feet (25 m) tall and topped by the Percy Lion, the symbol of the Percy family—designed by Charles Harper and erected for Hugh Percy, 2nd Duke of Northumberland in 1816 in gratitude to the Duke.
- the White Swan Hotel, an 18th-century coaching inn that now houses the First Class Lounge and other fittings from the Titanic's near-identical sister ship RMS Olympic.
- the Fusiliers Museum of Northumberland, found within Alnwick Castle.
- St Michael's Church on Bailiffgate, a Grade II listed building dating from the 15th century with fragments from the 12th century.
- RAF Boulmer was an airfield during World War II. It now has a role in early warning radar surveillance and communications.
- The Fenkle Street drill hall converted from a library in 1887.
Alnwick Fair was an annual costumed event, held each summer from 1969 to 2007, recreating some of the appearance of medieval trading fairs and 17th century agricultural fairs. It has now been discontinued.
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.
The Alnwick branch line formerly linked a station close to the centre of Alnwick to Alnmouth station, but this was closed in January 1968. Since the 2010s, the Aln Valley Railway Trust have worked to reopen the branch as a heritage railway but, due to construction of the A1 Alnwick bypass removing a section of the original trackbed on the edge of the town, their purpose-built Alnwick Lionheart terminus is located near the Lionheart Enterprise Estate on the outskirts of the town. The reopening project is ongoing and, as of July 2020, the line's eastern terminus had reached a new station at Greenrigg Halt, approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from Lionheart, although it is yet to carry passengers over the full length.
Born in Alnwick
- William of Alnwick (c. 1275–1333), Franciscan theologian and Bishop of Giovinazzo
- Martin of Alnwick (d. 1336), Franciscan friar and theologian
- Henry 'Hotspur' Percy (1364?–1403), son of the 1st Earl of Northumberland
- John Busby (1765–1857), mining engineer
- William Davison (1781–1858), pharmacist, apothecary, publisher and printer
- Prideaux John Selby (1788–1867), ornithologist, botanist and artist
- William Henry Percy (1788–1855), naval commander and politician
- James Catnach (1792-1841), publisher
- George Biddell Airy (1801–1892), Astronomer Royal from 1835 to 1881
- George Tate (1805–1871), tradesman, local topographer, antiquarian and naturalist
- Thomas Turner Tate (1807–1888), mathematical and scientific educator and writer
- James Patterson (1833–1895), Australian colonial politician, premier of Victoria, born in Alnwick in 1833
- T. J. Cobden Sanderson (1840–1922), artist and bookbinder associated with the Arts and Crafts movement
- Ralph Tate (1840–1901), botanist and geologist
- Bernard Bosanquet (1848–1923), philosopher
- Jim Hilton (1894–1964), painter for Shell Oil and immigrant to Canada
- David Adam (1936–2020), English minister and Canon of York Minster
- Sid Waddell (1940–2012), commentator and television personality
- Jeremy Darroch (born 1962), chief executive of Sky
- Jonny Kennedy (1966–2003), spokesperson and sufferer of the skin condition Epidermolysis Bullosa
- Stella Vine (born 1969), artist
- Kelland Watts (born 1999), professional footballer
Died in Alnwick
- Malcolm III of Scotland (died 1093)
- Tip Tipping (1958–1993), actor, died in a parachuting accident at Brunton
- Stan Anderson (1871-1942), English international rugby union player
Appearances in film and television
- Mary Queen of Scots (1971)
- Unidentified Flying Oddball (UK title "The Spaceman and king Arthur")
- Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) had scenes filmed at Alnwick Castle 
- The first two Harry Potter films had scenes filmed at Alnwick Castle: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001), and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) 
- The Black Adder, (the first series), was filmed at Alnwick Castle. Nearby Brinkburn Priory was used as a stand-in for Canterbury Cathedral in the third episode of the first series "The Archbishop".
- Robin of Sherwood, TV series
- Vera, ITV murder mystery, Series 5, Episode 3: Muddy Waters filmed a scene in Alnwick's market place; the filming took place while the market was going on and was not staged for the episode, except for two stalls that were created just for the episode.
Freedom of the Town
The following people and military units have received the Freedom of the Town of Alnwick.
- "Parish population 2011". Archived from the original on 26 June 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
- "Alnwick Town Council Website". Alnwick Town Council. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
- Watts, Victor, ed. (2004). The Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. s.v. Alnwick.
- "The Percy Papers". University of Durham. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
- John Wilson (2019). "Second Battle of Alnwick". BattlefieldsofBritain.co.uk. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
- Mackenzie, Eneas (1825). An Historical, Topographical, and Descriptive View of the County of Northumberland: And of Those Parts of the County of Durham Situated North of the River Tyne, with Berwick Upon Tweed, and Brief Notices of Celebrated Places on the Scottish Border. Mackenzie and Dent.
- Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1889). . Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 18. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- Scott, Hew (1928). Fasti ecclesiae scoticanae; the succession of ministers in the Church of Scotland from the reformation. Vol. 7. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd. p. 504. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
- Whitaker, Muriel A. (1976). "Sir Thomas Malory's Castles of Delight". Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 9, no. 2. pp. 73–84.
- Whittle, Tim (2017). Fuelling the Wars - PLUTO and the Secret Pipeline Network 1936 to 2015. p. 207. ISBN 9780992855468.
- Smith, Maurice A, ed. (15 February 1968). "News and Views: A1 Alnwick by-pass". Autocar. p. 57.
- "Bridges On The Aln - Introduction". Bridgesonthetyne.co.uk. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
- George Tate, The History of the Borough, Castle, and Barony of Alnwick (Vol. 1). Alnwick: Henry Hunter Blair, 1866.
- "Alnwick ward population 2011". Archived from the original on 26 June 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
- "A Novel Experience - A Visit to Barter Books Alnwick". Tracy's Travels in Time. 10 May 2019. Retrieved 28 September 2020.
- "Sanofi may sell Alnwick R&D facility". Outsourcing Pharma. 27 July 2009. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
- "Micropub plan for empty town-centre office". Northumberland Gazette. 18 October 2022. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
- "Jobs to go with closure of Alnwick operation". Northumberland Gazette. 11 July 2014. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
- "A Brief History | The Duchess's". www.dchs-alnwick.org. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
- "History museums: Divine detour". The Economist. 27 October 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
- Historic England. "Northumberland Hall (1041460)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
- "History of the Playhouse | Alnwick Playhouse". alnwickplayhouse.co.uk. 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
- "Willowburn Leisure Centre". Sports Facilities. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
- "Bailiffgate Museum". Archived from the original on 5 October 2008. Retrieved 23 December 2008., Retrieved 23 December 2008.
- "Brizlee Tower". Robin Kent Architecture & Conservation website. Robin Kent Architecture & Conservation. Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
- "Camphill Column (Alnwick)". Keys to the Past website. Durham County Council and Northumberland County Council. Archived from the original on 20 March 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
- "Bondgate Tower, Bondgate Within, Alnwick - Northumberland (UA) | Historic England". historicengland.org.uk. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
- Historic England. "Nelson monument and railings to west (1303733)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
- "Percy Tenantry Column, Alnwick – 1041405". Historic England. Retrieved 28 September 2021.
- "RMS Olympic at the White Swan, Alnwick" (PDF). White Swan Hotel, Alnwick. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
- "Museum enlists force of model recruits". Northumberland Gazette. 23 September 2004. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
- Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1041546)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
- "Boulmer (Longhoughton)". Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
- "Kelly's Directory of Northumberland (1894)". Archived from the original on 28 August 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
- "Berwick RFC". www.pitchero.com/clubs/berwick. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
- Alnwick Town at the Football Club History Database
- Curry, Jaclyn (14 February 2008). "Death of the Fair". Northumberland Gazette. Northumberland. Archived from the original on 16 February 2008. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
- "A1 Alnwick Lane Configuration Change". Roads.ork.uk. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
- Butt, R. V. J. (October 1995). The Directory of Railway Stations: details every public and private passenger station, halt, platform and stopping place, past and present (1st ed.). Sparkford: Patrick Stephens Ltd. ISBN 978-1-85260-508-7. OCLC 60251199. OL 11956311M. p.34
- "AVR January/February 2020 Newsletter". Retrieved 15 July 2020.
- "How Newcastle Airport's Shiny, New Terminal Was Opened on This Day 50 Years Ago". Evening Chronicle. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 18 July 2021.
- "Mary, Queen of Scots (1971 film)". Movie Locations. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
- "Unidentified Flying Oddball - History". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
- "Filming Locations for Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves (1991), with Kevin Costner, in East Sussex, Wiltshire, North Yorkshire, Buckinghamshire, Northumberland, London and France". The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations. Retrieved 10 May 2021.
- "Harry Potter at Alnwick Castle | A Hogwarts Castle Experience | Alnwick Castle". www.alnwickcastle.com. Retrieved 10 May 2021.
- Alnwick Castle official website Archived 17 December 2005 at the Wayback Machine, URL accessed 2 June 2008
- Brinkburn Priory, URL accessed 9 August 2010
- "Robin of Sherwood". Silver Arrow. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
- "Vera" Muddy Waters (TV Episode 2015) - IMDb, retrieved 10 May 2021
- Smith, Ian (24 March 2022). "Tributes paid to Alnwick man who passed away two days after receiving freedom of town". The Northumberland Gazette. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
- "Bill Hugonin: Tributes paid to highly respected Honorary Freeman of Alnwick". Alnwick Town Council. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
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