Does this castle look familiar to you? Are you a fan of Harry Potter? If you have answered yes to both of these questions, this is because the above image is of Alnwick Castle. Director and producer of the first two Harry Potter films Chris Columbus utilized Alnwick as part of the grounds for Hogwarts. In real life, this castle is nearly as old as the fictionalized Hogwarts.
Alnwick Castle is the seat of the Duke of Northumberland in northern England. The castle dates back to the the Norman period and is one of the largest inhabited castles in the U.K. The present occupants of the castle, the Percy family, acquired the castle in 1309. The original castle was relatively small. Overtime the addition of towers and its imposing walls during the medieval period transformed the castle into an imposing border fortress.
Notably in 1572, Thomas Percy was arrested and subsequently executed for plotting to place Mary Queen of Scots on the English throne. The castle was left relatively uninhabited until the 18th century until Robert Adam added gothic elements to the interiors. By the 1850s, the 9th Duke of Northumberland paid a sum of 250,000 GBP to restore the castle to its medieval glory.
The Castle Today
The Percy family still resides in a small cross section of the castle. The remainder of the rooms and grounds are open to the public. Harry Potter and Downtown Abby have both used the castle as a filming backdrop. The revenue from the proceeds of visitors assist with funding the upkeep of the large home.
Tickets and Hours
Tours, Museums, and Things to Do
Alnwick Castle offers two main tours included in the price of admission.
Food and drink options are limited, but available for purchase on the grounds.
Is It Worth a Visit?
When I went on my first trip to the UK in 2006, Alnwick Castle was a must see on my itinerary. I loved the Harry Potter films and was eager to gain entry to the famous castle. Looking back, I wish I had appreciated the tour a bit more. I was able to walk through the State Rooms and truly understand how the English aristocracy once lived. It was truly an imposing place to sit on the grounds and stare up at the thick walls and picture what the castle must have been like in its heyday.
The grounds alone are well worth the trek. I took quite a few photos and enjoyed recreating scenes from Harry Potter. The falconry in that and of itself was also well worth seeing. I wish I had known more about the lovely gardens. They are considered a separate attraction, but can be viewed with the purchase of a combination ticket. I would say that three to four hours should be sufficient to see most sights on the grounds. As always, a pair of comfy walking shoes is a must.
All in all the tickets can be expensive, so keep that in mind. On a budget, I might recommend Windsor Castle instead as a better value for money, but with families, if the activities are booked in advance, it is worth a visit.