For our wedding anniversary, our kids treated us to three days with a Mercedes from a luxury limo hire company, which was fabulous. I think we covered the entire North of England driving around in our hired Bentley, and saw some wonderful sites, including Alnwick Castle.
Alnwick Castle is best known as the home of Harry Potter’s school ‘Hogwarts’ and visitors come from all over the world to see where many memorable scenes were shot. However the castle has an interesting history of its own. Note: Alnwick is pronounced ‘Annikk’
Way back in the late eleventh century, Yves de Vescy; an Englishman with a French name, built the earliest parts of Alnwick Castle, which is situated in the county of Northumberland in the north-east of England, close to the Scottish border. He built it to defend England against the Scottish invasions that were going on at the time.
Later, in 1309, Alnwick Castle was purchased by a member of the rich and powerful Percy family who restored it, and family members continue to live in it today. It is the second largest inhabited castle in England.
Alnwick Castle is not a picture book fairy tale castle. Remember it is a fortress, and it looks like one, with its heavy stone walls and carved stone warriors guarding the battlements, but it is extremely impressive and is regarded as one of the most stunning castles in Europe.
The current inhabitants, the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, have opened a large part of the estate to the public and have succeeded in making it one of the most popular and most visited castles in England. The interior houses a fabulous art collection which includes paintings by the likes of Van Dyck and Canaletto. The Harry Potter connection has made it a Mecca for children but the castle is much more than a film location.
Activities for Kids Alnwick Castle
There’s lots of fun things for kids to do. The Dragon’s Quest is where kids can slay a dreaded fire-breathing monster, or learn about ancient crafts and medieval skills, and the Bamboo Labyrinth makes an ideal place to get lost or play hide and seek. There are opportunities for archery and the learning of ancient crafts and medieval skills, rope bridges and dressing up. One of the most popular attractions is the Grand Cascade, a water feature built onto a hill, which every half an hour begins a display that sends the water from the top to the base using fountains and jets; kids love it.
The Alnwick Garden
Set around the cascading fountain is The Alnwick Garden: Beautiful landscaped gardens have transformed a previously unused site into what has been described as one of the world’s most exciting and stimulating contemporary gardens. As well as ornamental gardens and rose gardens there is a poison garden which reminds visitors how many deadly plants there are, and some beautiful sculptures in the Serpent Garden. Don’t miss the large tree house which has a restaurant. The garden has excellent access for the disabled.
Alnwick is a lovely traditional market town with a 15th century parish church and well worth a stroll around.
It is a short drive or bus ride from the historic city of Newcastle.