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Alnwick and Alnwick Castle - Northumberland - 140804.jpg
The town of Alnwick, nestling behind
Alnwick Castle (August 2004)
Northumberland UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within Northumberland
Population8,116 (2011 census) [1]
OS grid reference NU186129
Civil parish
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town ALNWICK
Postcode district NE66
Dialling code 01665
Police Northumbria
Fire Northumberland
Ambulance North East
UK Parliament
List of places
55°24′48″N1°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) Alnwick Castle in winter (2013) - panoramio.jpg
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]

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. [5]

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. [6]

In 1314, Sir John Felton was governor of Alnwick. [7] 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. [8]

Sir Thomas Malory mentions Alnwick as a possible location for Lancelot's castle Joyous Garde. [9]

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. [10]

The Alnwick by-pass takes the A1 London–Edinburgh trunk road around the town. It was started in 1968. [11]


Alnwick lies at 55°25′00″N01°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. [12]


The rear view of Alnwick Town Hall (the main entrance is in the Market Place) Alnwick Town Hall as seen from the west.jpg
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. [13] Alnwick Town Hall was the home of the common council of Alnwick. [13] 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. [14]


Barter Books in Alnwick Barter Books, Alnwick - - 86554.jpg
Barter Books in Alnwick

Some major or noteworthy employers in the town are:


Secondary schools in Alnwick include The Duchess's Community High School. [19]


The town's greatest building is Alnwick Castle, one of the homes of the Duke of Northumberland, and site of The Alnwick Garden. [20]

Alnwick marketplace at night in winter Alnwick marketplace - snow - night.jpg
Alnwick marketplace at night in winter

The town centre is the marketplace, with its market cross, and the relatively modern Northumberland Hall, used as a meeting place. [21]

The Alnwick Playhouse is a thriving multi-purpose arts centre that stages theatre, dance, music, cinema, and visual arts productions. [22]

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). [23]

Bailiffgate Museum, a local history museum Front of Bailiffgate Museum squared up.jpg
Bailiffgate Museum, a local history museum

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. [24]

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 Brizlee Tower - Alnwick - Northumberland - UK - 2006-03-04.jpg
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. [37]

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.jpg
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. [38]



Bondgate Tower HotspurTower.JPG
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). [39]


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. [40]

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. [41]


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. [42]

Town twinning

Alnwick is twinned with: [43]

Notable people

Stella Vine Stella Vine 2001.jpg
Stella Vine

Born in Alnwick

Lived in Alnwick

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.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Northumberland</span> County of England

Northumberland is a ceremonial county in North East England, bordering Scotland. It is bordered by the Scottish Borders to the north, the North Sea to the east, Tyne and Wear and County Durham to the south, and Cumbria to the west. The town of Blyth is the largest settlement.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alnwick Castle</span> Castle and stately home in Alnwick, Northumberland, England

Alnwick Castle is a castle and country house in Alnwick in the English county of Northumberland. It is the seat of the 12th Duke of Northumberland, built following the Norman conquest and renovated and remodelled a number of times. It is a Grade I listed building now the home of Ralph Percy, 12th Duke of Northumberland and his family. In 2016, the castle received over 600,000 visitors per year when combined with adjacent attraction the Alnwick Garden.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hulne Priory</span>

Hulne Priory, Hulne Friary or Hulne Abbey was a friary founded in 1240 by the Carmelites or 'Whitefriars'. It is said that the Northumberland site, quite close to Alnwick, was chosen for some slight resemblance to Mount Carmel where the order originated. Substantial ruins survive, watched over by the stone figures of friars carved in the 18th century. It is a sign of the unrest felt in this area so near to the border with Scotland that the priory had a surrounding wall and in the 15th century a pele tower was erected. Changes were made at the Dissolution of the Monasteries when the Percy family took control.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">River Aln</span> River in Northumberland, England

The River Aln runs through the county of Northumberland in England. It rises in Alnham in the Cheviot Hills and discharges into the North Sea at Alnmouth on the east coast of England.

The Alnwick branch line is a partly closed railway line in Northumberland, northern England. A heritage railway currently operates a mile of the line, which originally ran from Alnmouth railway station, on the East Coast Main Line, to the town of Alnwick, a distance of 2+34 miles (4.4 km).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ralph Percy, 12th Duke of Northumberland</span> English peer (born 1956)

Ralph George Algernon Percy, 12th Duke of Northumberland,, styled Lord Ralph Percy until 1995, is a British hereditary peer and rural landowner and current head of the House of Percy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bilton, Northumberland</span> Human settlement in England

Bilton is a hamlet in the civil parish of Lesbury, Northumberland, in England. It is situated near the River Aln, a short distance inland from the North Sea coast, close to Alnmouth. Alnwick is the nearest town.

Alnmouth is a coastal village in Northumberland, England, situated 4 miles (6 km) east-south-east of Alnwick. The population of the civil parish at the 2001 Census was 562, reducing to 445 at the 2011 Census.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brizlee Tower</span> Folly tower in Northumberland, England

Brizlee Tower is a Grade 1 listed folly set atop a hill in Hulne Park, the walled home park of the Duke of Northumberland in Alnwick, Northumberland. The tower was erected in 1781 for Hugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland, and commands extensive views over North Northumberland and the Borders.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">A1068 road</span> Road in northern England

The A1068 is a road in northern England that runs from Seaton Burn in North Tyneside to Alnwick in Northumberland. The section between Ellington and Alnmouth is signposted as part of the Northumberland Coastal Route.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lesbury</span> Human settlement in England

Lesbury is a small rural village in Northumberland in the north of England. It is built on the main coastal road 3.5 miles (5.6 km) southeast of Alnwick, on the north bank of the River Aln. Alnmouth railway station is about half a mile away.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Felton, Northumberland</span> Village in Northumberland, England

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Alnmouth is a railway station on the East Coast Main Line, which runs between London King's Cross and Edinburgh Waverley. The station, situated 34 miles 69 chains north of Newcastle, serves the coastal and rural villages of Alnmouth and Lesbury and the neighbouring market town of Alnwick in Northumberland, England. It is owned by Network Rail and managed by Northern Trains.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alnwick railway station</span> Disused railway station in Alnwick, Northumberland

Alnwick railway station was the terminus of the Alnwick branch line, which diverged from the East Coast Main Line at Alnmouth in Northumberland, Northern England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">St Michael's Church, Alnwick</span> Church in Northumberland , England

St Michael's Church is an Anglican place of worship situated on Bailiffgate in the town of Alnwick in Northumberland, England. The current building dates from the 15th century but a 12th-century Norman chapel stood on the site prior to this; reports of an earlier 8th-century Saxon chapel are unconfirmed. The church is dedicated to St Michael the Archangel, in earlier times it was also dedicated to St Mary as well. It is a Grade I listed building.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Denwick</span> Human settlement in England

Denwick is a small village and civil parish in Northumberland, located about 1.4 miles (2 km) north-east of Alnwick.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Alnmouth</span>

The history of Alnmouth, a village and seaport in Northumberland, England, can be traced back to the Mesolithic period. Its modern history starts with the establishment of a settlement in 1152 and a charter for a port and market in 1207/8. Fragmentary evidence of occupation or use in earlier periods has been found. The port's peak period was in the 18th & 19th centuries. From the late 19th century and in the 20th century the village became a coastal resort.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alnwick Lionheart railway station</span>

Alnwick Lionheart is a railway station situated on the edge of the Lionheart Enterprise Park on the outskirts of Alnwick, Northumberland. It is the western terminus and operational base of the preserved Aln Valley Railway which is currently working to rebuild the original Alnwick branch line from there to Alnmouth station. The station was constructed on a different site from the original Alnwick station due to the construction of the A1 Alnwick bypass which removed a section of the original trackbed on the edge of the town as well as the construction of buildings on the original station site and some of the trackbed on the approach to it.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bondgate Tower</span> Grade I listed building in Alnwick, Northumberland, UK

Bondgate Tower also known as the Hotspur Tower or the Hotspur Gateway in reference to Sir Henry Percy commonly known as Harry Hotspur son of the 1st Earl of Northumberland and father of the 2nd Earl of Northumberland. Although commonly called a tower it is actually a gatehouse of three stories constructed of stone and consists of a recessed archway flanked by two polygonal towers. It is located in Alnwick, Northumberland in the United Kingdom. The gatehouse crosses the road called Bondgate known by its road number as the B6346 the main road of Alnwick and low height traffic can pass though its entrance while tall height traffic take divestions to get past. A licence was granted in the 1430s by Henry V to Henry Percy 2nd Earl of Northumberland to wall the town and add battlements. These took fifty years to complete, with Bondgate Tower being finished around 1450.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Dickson (solicitor)</span>

William Dickson (1799-1875) was a solicitor, magistrate, banker and antiquary associated with Alnwick, Northumberland, England.


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