Many of us will recognize Alnwick as “Hogwarts” from the Harry Potter films, particularly the courtyard where the flying broom scenes were filmed. The second-largest inhabited castle in England after Windsor Castle, Alnwick is the embodiment of what a castle should look like! Huge as it is, however, it’s interesting to know that computer generation was used for the wide-angle shots of the movies.
In real life, Alnwick is the home of the Duke of Northumberland and his family. Only part of the castle is open to the public, as the family lives in the rest of it. No photos of the interior of the castle were permitted, unfortunately. The 18th-century Meissen and Chelsea porcelain collections are utterly stunning and most beautifully displayed.
The week we visited, preparations were taking place for the wedding of the youngest daughter, Lady Melissa Percy to Thomas van Straubenzee, where Prince William and Prince Harry were in attendance. To the great disappointment of the town, who turned out in droves to watch the wedding procession, the Duchess of Cambridge did not attend, as she is well advanced in her pregnancy.
The castle and its grounds are impeccably maintained. Jane Percy, the current Duchess has been very instrumental establishing of The Alnwick Garden, a formal garden set around a cascading fountain. The garden itself belongs to a charitable trust which is separate from the Northumberland Estates. The Duke of Northumberland donated the 42-acre (17 ha) site and £9 million towards the construction.
We had a very good dinner at the Tree House Restaurant within the gardens. The inside of the restaurant is furnished in a whimsical style, but the dining chairs are incredibly uncomfortable. If you decide to go, bring a lumbar cushion.