After our busy walking day at Hadrian’s Wall, we drove away through the farmlands of Northumberland all lined with their pilfered Hadrian’s Wall stone. We wound our way up to Alnwick to visit a beautiful 700 year old castle – Alnwick Castle. And yes – I convinced Rob’s parents to leap into the air for a photo. Choice!
Alnwick Castle is the ancestral home of the 12th Duke of Northumberland (55 year old Ralph Percy) though the family only live there over the winter months. You can’t take photos inside the castle, but there are 6 rooms open to the public. This side of the castle is the ‘old’ side which has the dining room – full of huge portraits of all the previous dukes and duchess’ of Northumberland. Dripping with wealth, as you’d expect from a place like this.
On this ‘newer’ side of the castle is where the chapel is with the pointed roof and the large library. The library was compiled by the 9th Earl in the early 17th century. This unfortunate Percy was imprisoned in the Tower of London, and resorted to his books to fend off the boredom.
The ramparts of the castle and the castle walls all have lots of little figurines! They’re all in different poses all over the castle and look fantastic. Very cool!
The castle is set in parklands design by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. They were extensive and seemed to go on and on in the distance. If we had more time, would’ve been great to go for a walk through.
But, incase some of you hadn’t guessed, there was an ulterior motive to driving an hour out of our way to visit this impressive castle. Yep. It was a Harry Potter movie location. The castle was used 6 times in the first film and once in the second. Awesome!
To give you an idea of the importance of Alnwick castle in the Hogwarts world, here’s a view of the castle with the Quidditch pitch in the background. Brilliant.
The memorable ‘first flying lesson’ was filmed just within the castle walls. Loved this scene!
This same area was used for Harry’s first Quidditch lesson with Oliver Wood.
Alnwick Castle was used for general Hogwarts castle scenes with students milling around.
In addition to these general students scenes, our main characters would also wander through the castle, like below here after the ‘Swish and Flick’ Charms class. This is just inside the main inner gate above.
It was also used at Christmas time when Hagrid dragged the huge pine tree into the castle through the snow. Apparently they actually filmed during summer and used finely shredded paper as snow on the ground. After filming but before the production company could vacuum up all the paper, a burst of wind blew all the paper all over the castle walls and they stuck. For the next 9 months, 2 cleaners carefully removed every piece of paper off without damaging the stonework, all at the company’s expense. Madness.
Overall, I was totally thrilled with the castle and it’s history, as well as the Harry Potter-ness of the whole place. The current Duke of Northumberland came up with various ways to make the castle profitable like allowing the castle to be used in films. This helps increase the number of visitors to the castle so the family can continue to afford the constant maintenance the old place needs.
For such a beautiful old place, I say good on him!
More travels to come.