Heritage Northumberland: Alnwick Castle and Alnwick Garden

Northumberland is rich in heritage properties, as discussed in a previous article English Heritage, Historic Houses and National Trust in Northumberland. I have visited many of these properties over the years, but somehow had never been to Alnwick Castle and Alnwick Garden…  until now.

Alnwick Castle
Alnwick Castle

It is important to note that Alnwick Castle and Alnwick Garden are run as two very separate entities as far as entry in concerned.

The Castle comes under the auspices of Historic Houses with members having free entry – see below.

The Garden, which is now run by a charitable trust, is not part of any heritage organisation and an entry fee is payable – see below. However, it does accept the BBC Gardeners’ World 2-for-1 card for entry for many off-peak dates.

Alnwick Castle

The Castle dates back to about 1096 and is the seat of the Dukes of Cumberland. It has been remodelled on several occasions and occupies a key position protecting an ancient crossing of the River Aln. During the 12th Century it was besieged on a few occasions by Kings of Scotland.

Archaeological artefacts in the Castle Museum
Archaeological items in Castle Museum

It is currently the home of the Ralph Percy, the 12th Duke of Northumberland, however several very opulent state rooms are open for public access on a free flow basis. No photography is allowed within the castle.

There are three museums in the Castle’s towers. One of the museums highlights the archaeological interests of the Dukes of Northumberland and includes many Roman and early British items. The other two museums contain various military artefacts.

Extensive walls surround the central castle with a short walk along one of the battlements providing great views down to the River Aln.

Alnwick Garden

Water Cascade
Water Cascade

The Garden dates back to the 1750s when it was laid down by the 1st Duke of Northumberland with advice from Capability Brown.

However it fell into disrepair over the years until redeveloped starting in 1997 by Jane Percy, Duchess of Northumberland.

The 42 acre Garden now features a mixture of formal gardens and informal walks, all centred on a very impressive water cascade.

Poison Garden
The Poison Garden

The formal gardens include a traditional Ornamental Garden and a Rose Garden that was particularly attractive when we visited in early summer.

An interesting curiosity is The Poison Garden which includes a wide range of toxic plants including hemlock, deadly nightshade, laburnum, opium poppy and even rhubarb.

Small groups are shepherded around this garden and  are strongly advised not to sample or ‘pinch’ any plants along the way!

Free car parks are available on Greenwell Road near the entrances to both sites.

Entry to Alnwick Castle is £22.80 for adults, £18.40 for over-sixties and £12 for children, although lower prices apply if purchased over the internet. If you take up annual membership of Historic Houses, you will get free entry to Alnwick Castle and to 300 other heritage sites. Enter our unique code STEW05 at ‘Add discount code’ and new members will receive a £5 discount. This also applies if you wish to give annual membership as a gift.

We have reviewed several other properties under Historic Houses and see also Historic Houses versus National Trust – Which to join?

Entry to Alnwick Garden is £18.90 for adults, with lower prices if booked in advance, and free for children.

POSTED 21st June 2024 by STEVE HANSON. The photographs were taken by BARBARA HANSON.