Alnwick Castle And Gardens

Jan Leeming

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Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.


Date: 26th October 2013


It was just as well that Sue and I visited Lindisfarne  the previous evening because Alnwick took us all day and then some.

The weather looked a bit iffy so we started with the Gardens which are very interesting. I’ve seen better but they were certainly worth a visit and our particular favourite was the small and incredibly fascinating ‘Poison Garden’. There are so many everyday plants and shrubs which used incorrectly can be fatal to humans. I was particularly interested in a fungus called Ergot which can affect cereal crops, mostly in the tropics. Eating produce made from the infected crops can lead to a person having a condition known as ergotism or "St. Anthony's Fire",in reference to the order of monks known as The Hospital Brothers of St. Anthony.who specialized in treating victims of the disease which caused severe burning sensations in the limbs. These are caused by effects of ergot alkaloids on the vascular system due to vasoconstriction, sometimes leading to gangrene and loss of limbs due to severely restricted blood circulation.

Alnwick Castle is very much a mish-mash of styles and there’s very little left of the original structure. However we had a very good guide who made the tour highly interesting especially with his little asides and ‘stories’. The owners of Alnwick Castle were and still are immensely wealthy. They are the Dukes of Northumberland and are of the family Percy. It was one of their ancestors who rebelled against Richard II (son of the Black Prince) the latter meeting a very unpleasant death from, it is thought, starvation. When a King died his body was always put on show so any obvious signs of maltreatment had to be hidden. No one could prove starvation as a cause of death. Nor could they prove the horrendous way Edward II met his end.

I find it particularly interesting that in Canterbury Cathedral we have the tomb of the Black Prince on one side of the ambulatory opposite that of the only King buried in the Cathedral, Henry IV who usurped the throne from the Black Prince’s son who was Richard II. Before the destruction of the shrine  in 1538 the two tombs would have flanked the magnificent shrine to Beckett. I often wonder if the dead walk and what happens at night when we’ve all left the Cathedral!

The Keep at Alnwick is a tribute to Italian Art. One of the former Dukes undertook the Grand Tour and came back overwhelmed by what he’d seen in Italy. He even purchased a small gallery and became the owner of several dozen paintings among them a couple of Canalettos and other canvasses which would bring a King’s ransom today. Do look up Alnwick on the Internet – it is fascinating.

And it is regularly used for filming. The Castle, as was Bambrugh and its beach, were used in the filming of the 1959 film ‘Becket’. More recently it was extensively used in the Harry Potter films and whilst we were there they had Hogwarts adventures for children.


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