Alnwick Castle

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Accio broomstick! Don't know what I'm talking about or know your Firebolts from your Nimbus 2000s? Then you need to attend the Broomstick Training with a resident wizard professor to get up to speed. Of course whilst Harry Potter has brought Alnwick Castle back into the public's short term memory, it's not all about the boy wizard, far from it. We found this out by joining the delightful & interesting Ann on a Historical Grounds Tour. Here we learnt all about the history of the castle, it's fortifications & those hidden places not immediately obvious if you're wandering around on your own. We learnt about the previous owners of the castle, the French influence, the links to Anne Boleyn & the gunpowder plot. Such a rich & interesting history. As well as admiring the castle's architecture & walking the ramparts, you have the added bonus of it being set in some of the most beautiful countryside England has to offer. Inside the State Rooms span the centuries, with items that hark back to the early part of the Percey's occupation, to the more modern possessions of the current Duke & Duchess. The fact that this is still a home adds a homely edge to the grandeur & glamorous artefacts on display. My personal favourite was the library, with its first editions & classic works, 14,000 pieces of literature to treasure. Next was a trip to The Lost Cellars with The Keeper of the Lost Souls for a spine chilling performance by 3 actors under the ground. All the staff you meet here are well informed, happy to help & have a real enthusiasm for the castle & the history it has to offer. There are other tours you can go on, all included in the price of your ticket & we also spent some time in the other museums & exhibitions on offer. We finished off with a Battleaxe to Broomsticks tour with Andy, who enthusiastically regaled us with stories of how the castle has been used in many films. To be fair much of this was Harry Potter based around the castle's role as Hogwarts but I enjoyed my final "Potter" fix before heading off well satisfied by an excellent day out. A few points to note: Booking on line will save you 10% off the gate admission price & the combo castle & gardens ticket may also save you money if you intend to see both. The castle portion of your ticket can be converted into a 12 month pass. Some of the hotels have discount vouchers, so check with yours before you buy. Not all parts of the castle are accessible if you have mobility issues but free electric scooters are available, so check with them to see how your precise needs are catered for.

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