By kind permission of Their Graces the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland


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Alnwick, high on its bluff above the river Alne, was at the heart of English and Scottish border disputes for nearly a thousand years. Owned first by the Tysons and the De Vescys, the full glory of the castle began with its purchase by the Percys, future Dukes of Northumberland, in the 14c. By 1475 the superlative 8-foot-thick walled Barbican and its gatehouse were built. Fine towers followed, a medieval keep with hall, kitchens and sleeping quarters, a chapel, a brewhouse, bakehouse and slaughterhouse, a storehouse and a chantry house. In the 18c the castle was gothicised by Robert Adam with picturesque turrets and terraced gardens added above the river. As the principal seat of the Dukes of Northumberland in the 19c, Alnwick was brilliantly restored with rich Italianate Rooms, now one of the greatest repositories in the UK of Old Master paintings and world-renowned historic furniture. The present Duchess has spent £12 million on an astounding formal garden of pergolas, topiary, geometrical planting and a cascade designed by Jacques and Peter Wirtz, celebrated garden designers from Belgium. We have arranged special visits to the Old Master paintings collection, the State Rooms and the gardens led by Head Guides and Head Gardeners. If their diaries permit, their Graces will greet us at the Castle. We take coffee in their Graces’ Private Dining Room, never opened to the public before, hosted by His Grace’s Household Comptroller Andrew Farquarson. To complement our private visit to Alnwick we have also arranged an archaeological-themed visit of Bamburgh Castle, Royal Seat of the Kings of Northumbria, a great fortification sited 150 feet above the sea. Ably guided by Graeme Young, site archaeologist and head of the Bamburgh Research Project Graeme Young we see what he and his team have unearthed including prehistoric and Roman pottery, pre- Norman stone buildings in the Inner Ward of the castle, and an Anglo-Saxon cemetery of enormous complexity and importance.


COST £1180 members, £1230 non-members, single room supplement £75, deposit £250. This cost includes three nights accommodation at Doxford Hall Hotel, all breakfasts, all morning coffee, three lunches with wine, three dinners with wine, all tuition and lectures, entry fees, private tours, all travel during the tour, all gratuities, VAT. This cost excludes travel to and from the tour.