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Coordinates: 55°24′48″N 1°42′25″W / 55.4134°N 1.7069°W / 55.4134; -1.7069
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The town of Alnwick, including Alnwick Castle
Alnwick is located in Northumberland
Location within Northumberland
Population8,116 (2011 census)[1]
OS grid referenceNU186129
Civil parish
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townALNWICK
Postcode districtNE66
Dialling code01665
AmbulanceNorth East
UK Parliament
List of places
55°24′48″N 1°42′25″W / 55.4134°N 1.7069°W / 55.4134; -1.7069

Alnwick (/ˈænɪk/ AN-ik) is a market town in Northumberland, England, of which it is the traditional county town. The population at the 2011 Census was 8,116.

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 name Alnwick comes from the Old English wic ('dairy farm, settlement') and the name of the river Aln.[3]

Alnwick Castle in winter (December 2013)

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.[4]

The castle was founded as a timber structure by Ivo de Vesci in about 1096. In 1136 it is first recorded as being captured by David I of Scotland. In 1147, Alnwick Abbey was founded for Premonstratensian canons, a short distance west of the castle.[5] At about the same time, the castle was rebuilt in stone.[6]

At various points in the town are memorials of the constant wars with the 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 in 1093. 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 in 1174 by a party of about 400 mounted knights, led by Ranulf de Glanvill.[7]

Hulne Priory, outside the town walls in Hulne Park, the Duke of Northumberland's walled estate, was a friary founded in about 1240 for the Carmelites by William de Vesci.[8] It is said that the site was chosen for some slight resemblance to Mount Carmel where the order originated.[9]

In 1314, Sir John Felton was governor of Alnwick.[10] During the 14th century the Percys did extensive work on the castle, adding new towers in the outer wall, strong gates to the wall and keep, and new domestic apartments.[6] After the Percys challenged King Henry IV, the king moved against their castles, taking Alnwick in 1403, despite its improvements.

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. Following these setbacks, in the 15th century both monastic houses gained defensive towers and the town was walled.[11] In addition to the threat from Scotland, Alnwick was heavily contested in the Wars of the Roses.[12] It was held for Henry VI until the Lancastrian collapse of 1461, when it fell to Edward IV. That winter the Lancastrians recaptured it, but in July 1462 the Yorkists retook it. By the autumn the Lancastrians were again in possession, and quickly came under Yorkist siege. Despite Franco-Scottish reinforcements, the Lancastrians abandoned the castle to the Yorkists in January 1463, though by May they had regained it through betrayal. On 23 June it was surrendered to the Yorkists for the final time.[13] According to historian Dan Spencer, this made Alnwick the most besieged place in the country in the Wars of the Roses.[14] Sir Thomas Malory mentions Alnwick as a possible location for Lancelot's castle Joyous Garde.[15]

In the English Reformation, monastic life at Alnwick came to an end, with both Alnwick Abbey and Hulne Priory being suppressed in 1539.[16][17] Shortly after, the Percys also left Alnwick to decay, only resuming residence in the mid-18th century.[18] Since then the Percys have remained at Alnwick. There was a Church of Scotland congregation in Alnwick in the 17th and 18th centuries.[19]

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.[20]

The Alnwick by-pass takes the A1 London–Edinburgh trunk road around the town. It was started in 1968.[21]



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.[22]


The rear view of Alnwick Town Hall (the main entrance is in the Market Place)

Historically, the town was partly within the Bamburgh Ward and Coquetdale Ward and later included in the East Division of Coquetdale Ward in 1832.[23] Alnwick Town Hall was the home of the common council of Alnwick.[23] 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.[24]


Barter Books in Alnwick

Some major or noteworthy employers in the town are:



Secondary schools in Alnwick include The Duchess's Community High School.[29]



The town's greatest building is Alnwick Castle, one of the homes of the Duke of Northumberland, and site of The Alnwick Garden.[30] The castle has extensive grounds landscaped by Capability Brown, which include several follies as well as the ruins of St Leonard's Hospital, Alnwick Abbey and Hulne Priory.

Alnwick marketplace at night in winter

The town centre is the marketplace, with its market cross, and the 19th century Northumberland Hall, used as a meeting place.[31]

The Alnwick Playhouse is a thriving multi-purpose arts centre that stages theatre, dance, music, cinema, and visual arts productions.[32]

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).[33]

Bailiffgate Museum, a local history museum

Alnwick's museum, Bailiffgate Museum, is close to the Bailiffgate entrance to the castle. Its collection is 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.[34]

Other places of interest in and near the town include:

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



Local media


Local news and television programmes is provided by BBC North East and Cumbria and ITV Tyne Tees. Television signals are received from the Chatton TV transmitter. [49]

Alnwick’s local radio stations are BBC Radio Newcastle on 96.0 FM, Metro Radio on 102.6 FM and Lionheart Radio on 107.3 FM, a community based radio station.

Northumberland Gazette is the town’s local newspaper.


Bondgate Tower with its Christmas Lights (2012)

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.[50]




Bondgate Tower

Alnwick 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 Edinburgh (80 miles (130 km) north).[51]



The East Coast Main Line between Edinburgh (journey time approximately 1:10) and London (journey time approximately 3:45) runs through Alnmouth for Alnwick Station – about 4 miles (6 km) away – with a weekday service of 15 trains per day north to Edinburgh and 13 trains per day south to London.[52]

The Alnwick branch line formerly linked Alnwick's own station, close to the town centre, to Alnmouth station, but this line 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.[53]



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.[54]

Town twinning


Alnwick is twinned with:[55]

Notable people

Stella Vine

Born in Alnwick


Lived in Alnwick

  • Lucy Bronze (born 1991), footballer for Barcelona and England, played junior football in Alnwick and had plaque erected in her honour at Alnwick Town FC. [56]

Died in Alnwick


Filming location


Alnwick town has been used as a setting in films and television series.



Freedom of the Town


The following people have received the Freedom of the Town of Alnwick.

  • Bill Batey: 2019[57]
  • Adrian Ions: 12 November 2021[57]
  • William "Bill" Hugonin: 18 March 2022.[58][59]


  1. ^ "Parish population 2011". Archived from the original on 26 June 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  2. ^ "Alnwick Town Council Website". Alnwick Town Council. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
  3. ^ Watts, Victor, ed. (2004). The Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. s.v. Alnwick.
  4. ^ "The Percy Papers". University of Durham. 12 January 2018. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
  5. ^ a b Pevsner, Nikolaus (1957). Northumberland (1st ed.). Harmondsworth: Penguin. p. 67.
  6. ^ a b Pevsner, Nikolaus (1957). Northumberland (1st ed.). Harmondsworth: Penguin. p. 68.
  7. ^ John Wilson (2019). "Second Battle of Alnwick". BattlefieldsofBritain.co.uk. Archived from the original on 28 March 2020. Retrieved 20 July 2020.
  8. ^ Pevsner, Nikolaus (1957). Northumberland (1st ed.). Harmondsworth: Penguin. pp. 195–196.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1889). "Felton, Thomas (d.1381)" . Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 18. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  11. ^ Pevsner, Nikolaus (1957). Northumberland (1st ed.). Harmondsworth: Penguin. pp. 41, 67, 73, 196–197.
  12. ^ Spencer, Dan (2020). The Castle in the Wars of the Roses. Barnsley: Pen & Sword. pp. 79–85, 176. ISBN 978-1-52679-747-6.
  13. ^ Simpson, David. "Wars of the Roses in the North". England's North East. Retrieved 19 June 2024.
  14. ^ Spencer, Dan (23 November 2020). "Alnwick Castle and the Wars of the Roses". Dan Spencer. Retrieved 19 June 2024.
  15. ^ Whitaker, Muriel A. (1976). "Sir Thomas Malory's Castles of Delight". Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature. 9 (2). Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 9, no. 2: 73–84. JSTOR 24777076.
  16. ^ Historic England (11 May 2016). "Alnwick Abbey". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 19 June 2024.
  17. ^ Historic England (11 May 2016). "Hulne Priory". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 19 June 2024.
  18. ^ Pevsner, Nikolaus (1957). Northumberland (1st ed.). Harmondsworth: Penguin. p. 69.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ Whittle, Tim (2017). Fuelling the Wars - PLUTO and the Secret Pipeline Network 1936 to 2015. Folly Books, Limited. p. 207. ISBN 9780992855468.
  21. ^ Smith, Maurice A, ed. (15 February 1968). "News and Views: A1 Alnwick by-pass". Autocar. p. 57.
  22. ^ "Bridges On The Aln - Introduction". Bridgesonthetyne.co.uk. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  23. ^ a b George Tate, The History of the Borough, Castle, and Barony of Alnwick (Vol. 1). Alnwick: Henry Hunter Blair, 1866.
  24. ^ "Alnwick ward population 2011". Archived from the original on 26 June 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  25. ^ "A Novel Experience - A Visit to Barter Books Alnwick". Tracy's Travels in Time. 10 May 2019. Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  26. ^ "Quotient Sciences Buys Alnwick Research Centre". Quotient Sciences. 25 August 2021.
  27. ^ "Micropub plan for empty town-centre office". Northumberland Gazette. 18 October 2022. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
  28. ^ "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.
  29. ^ "A Brief History | The Duchess's". www.dchs-alnwick.org. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  30. ^ "History museums: Divine detour". The Economist. 27 October 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  31. ^ Historic England. "Northumberland Hall (1041460)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
  32. ^ "History of the Playhouse | Alnwick Playhouse". alnwickplayhouse.co.uk. 2012. Archived from the original on 7 April 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  33. ^ "Willowburn Leisure Centre". Sports Facilities. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
  34. ^ "Bailiffgate Museum". Archived from the original on 5 October 2008. Retrieved 23 December 2008., Retrieved 23 December 2008.
  35. ^ "Brizlee Tower". Robin Kent Architecture & Conservation website. Robin Kent Architecture & Conservation. Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
  36. ^ "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.
  37. ^ "Bondgate Tower, Bondgate Within, Alnwick - Northumberland (UA) | Historic England". historicengland.org.uk. Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  38. ^ Historic England (20 February 1952). "Pottergate Tower, Pottergate". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 19 June 2024.
  39. ^ Historic England. "Nelson monument and railings to west (1303733)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 5 December 2015.
  40. ^ Historic England. "Percy Tenantry Column, Alnwick (1041405)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 28 September 2021.
  41. ^ "RMS Olympic at the White Swan, Alnwick" (PDF). White Swan Hotel, Alnwick. Retrieved 7 April 2012.[permanent dead link]
  42. ^ "Museum enlists force of model recruits". Northumberland Gazette. 23 September 2004. Archived from the original on 12 June 2018. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  43. ^ Historic England. "Church of St Michael (1041546)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  44. ^ "Boulmer (Longhoughton)". Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust. Retrieved 24 November 2021.
  45. ^ "Kelly's Directory of Northumberland (1894)". Archived from the original on 28 August 2016. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  46. ^ Historic England (11 May 2016). "St Mary's Chantry House". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 19 June 2024.
  47. ^ "Berwick RFC". www.pitchero.com/clubs/berwick. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
  48. ^ Alnwick Town at the Football Club History Database
  49. ^ "Chatton (Northumberland, England) Full Freeview transmitter". May 2004.
  50. ^ Curry, Jaclyn (14 February 2008). "Death of the Fair". Northumberland Gazette. Northumberland. Archived from the original on 16 February 2008. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
  51. ^ "A1 Alnwick Lane Configuration Change". Roads.ork.uk. Retrieved 17 May 2022.
  52. ^ 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
  53. ^ "AVR January/February 2020 Newsletter". Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  54. ^ "How Newcastle Airport's Shiny, New Terminal Was Opened on This Day 50 Years Ago". Evening Chronicle. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 18 July 2021.
  55. ^ "Twin Towns". Alnwick Town Council. Retrieved 31 March 2023.
  56. ^ "England's Euro 2022 winners honoured with gold plaques at local football clubs". 22 September 2022.
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  58. ^ 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.
  59. ^ "Bill Hugonin: Tributes paid to highly respected Honorary Freeman of Alnwick". Alnwick Town Council. 21 March 2022. Retrieved 25 March 2022.