Alnwick Castle is not only one of the largest inhabited castles in England and 1,000 years old, it’s also something of a movie star.
This pictureque castle is one of the most iconic in Britain, having made appearances in popular films and television shows such as Elizabeth, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the Downton Abbey Christmas special, and its most famous role as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the first two Harry Potter films.
It was on the castle grounds that Harry had his first Quidditch lesson (the castle now hosts “broomstick training” throughout the summer months) and the spot where the Weasley’s flying Ford Anglia crash-landed on the first day of school.
Aside from its forays on the big and small screens, the magnificent castle also has a long and rich history; the first parts of the structure were erected around 1096. Located in the English county of Northumberland, today it is home to the Duke of Northumberland and his family and is the second largest inhabited castle in England after Windsor Castle.
Like many centuries-old estates, it has been besieged and renovated a number of times and home to a number of noble lords, most notably the Percy family, a powerful house in northern England for 700 years starting in the Middle Ages. The most famous of the Percys is Harry “Hotspur” Percy, a statue of whom is in one of the courtyards at Alnwick Castle. He was given the nickname after fighting courageously and impetuously against the Scots, and his story was immortalized by Shakespeare’s Henry IV.
While part of the castle is today occupied by the duke, the rest is open to the public in the summertime, where you can learn more about its medieval history, take broomstick lessons and for the rest of 2016 visit the Crawly and Grantham families at the castle’s Downtown Abbey exhibition.