Historic Alnwick
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From Malcolm's Well to Robertson's Pant.
This page features some of the many interesting features of Alnwick, each with a little bit of history ...

Malcolm's Cross, just to the North of the Castle, now apparently open for the public !
A monument to Malcolm (Canmore) III of Scotland, killed on 13/November/1093.
The cross was restored in 1774, and the original base and part of the original top (on the ground to the left) lie nearby.
On the north side of the standing monument are sculptured a crown and thistle, and on the south side a lion rampant, with other heraldic devices.
The shaft is decorated with miniature grotesque mask heads.
As with almost EVERY important and interesting feature in Alnwick, there are no signposts, and no "visitor-friendly" areas.

Malcolm's Well/ St Leonard's Hospital
King Malcolm was actually killed at "Malcolm's Well", of which this would appear to be the location. However, it is also the location of St Leonard's Hospital, founded in 1193 by Eustace de Vescy "for the rest of King Malcolm's and Queen Margaret's souls". In 1376 this was annexed by Alnwick Abbey.
Again no signs, but at least the area has been tidied, and there is a gate. Quite a charming little area actually for a seat.
Many squared stones lying along with other complex shaped stones -- the walls look as if they have been casually re-built, but the effect is rather quaint.
St Mary's Chantry. Walkergate
A listed Grade II* & SCheduled Ancient Monument.
Built around 1448, this was effectively an Abbey school. This building would originally have been thatched, but much of the atmosphere has been wrecked in a rather poor "re-touching" project. Before renovation the exterior was extremely impressive in aspect. Now it appears sterile.
The pointing of the stonework is good, but steel reinforcings of old windows and doors are clumsily visible, and the dirt floor inside is uneven. At the rear of the building, a wooden door lies, with graffiti scrawled over it testifying to local youngsters' aptitude to accessing this "historic" building. Shaped, marked and scutched squared stones lie at the rear. These should have been re-incorporated in any "renovation".
Again there are no signs -- old pieces of ornate ironwork lie loose inside. Another site of discarded history !
The stone recording that Scottish King William the Lion was captured here.
This is at the side of Ratten Row, to the front of the Hulne gatehouse (see below).
This is the replacement for a Gothic-type memorial which was taken down in the mid 1800's.
Again, there is NO sign indicating the nature or even existence of this memorial, except for the stone itself.
The site itself is poorly-maintained (indeed overgrown). Possibly the amount of damp there is connected to the fact that to the immediate rear of this stone is a tip for allotment users. Another poor use of Britain's rich history. I find it difficult to understand how it is impossible to put up signs for these features.

The central tablet was probably originally installed several miles away in the Ratcheugh summer house designed by Robert Adam. Engravings made there show it had been mounted in an 18th Century Gothic frame, decorated with finials and a relief carving of the Scottish thistle.
Rather a contrast to what it is now.
The main gatehouse to Hulne Park
A private house, it is still an impressive building.
The memorial stone for King William is to the extreme left (out of sight).
Hulne Park is a collection of working farms and sawmills, etc, but includes many old Abbey buildings. Acces is allowed during daylight hours, but only on foot (and no pets are permitted ).
Alnwick Castle
A VERY old picture taken from an old glass slide. Note the established pathway, where now the area is overgrown. Was public access allowed there in the past ?
The Bondgate Tower ... from inside !!
This view of the Bondgate Within, taken from inside the Bondgate Tower, over the arch.
The interior is actually quite disappointing -- downstairs is used by the Councils to store road signs and tools. Upstairs is a mess of old Christmas decorations, etc.
However, a very interesting building feature is the overhead brickwork inside, when one stands over the pedestrian archway (on the "North" side of Bondgate). The bricks form an arch, but they are laid as headers, with large mortar joints between them. So, certainly not a true structural arch, but a real architectural curiosity.
Inside the Pottergate Tower.
Sadly, the Pottergate Tower is a real disappointment inside. The real interest is the very narrow, spiral staircase (probably the closest to that inside Edinburgh's Scott Monument!). The Freemen control this Tower, and have recently renovated it (although I noticed very loose stonework inside!!).
The interior is spacious, but plain.
Some talk was made of making this into a commercial camera obscura, but even if the windows were unblocked, the view is only marginally better than that from street level. The Bailiffgate Museum was approached to see if they were interested in using it as an annexe.
The Tower is a curiosity, although there are no signs indicating what it is to visitors. The roof can only be reached by a VERY tall wooden ladder inside, but is not allowed for the public, since the top balcony is very low.
Robertson's Pant.
This fountain was built in 1890.
Actually a very well-constructed and pleasing feature, it is probably the only item in Alnwick which is illuminated to stunning effect at night.

The stone frieze above the spandrel arches includes Roberston's monogram, and a Masonic emblem.
Alnwick Market Place (1920's)
Today, the Market Place is supposedly pedestrian only, but is actually used as a car park for those buying snacks in the sandwich bar there.
It appears that common sense prevailed in the past : observe how the buses have entered from the upper part of the square, and leave at the lower end (in other words, WITH the traffic, and not against it).

Finally -- where's the top of the Market Cross !! Surely it couldn't have been vandalised or stolen ? Not in "the good old days" ....?
Alnwick's History ...
You don't have to travel far in Alnwick to see something interesting -- the problem has always been that although the Council raves on about how important tourism is, it actually does very little to promote it.
This Tower is just to the rear of the Playhouse, by this car park (close to an entrance to the Alnwick Gardens).
I'm unsure as to what it was, or how old it is, but it is impressive, and with just a bit of imaginative landscaping, the Council could improve its aspect.
I have since been informed that this could be "the Water Tower", constructed about 1826 to service the Castle Gardens in existence at that time.
What a waste !
This fine old Victorian property in Walkergate (quite close to St Michael's Church) has been empty and derelict for as long as I can recall.
The roof (ridge and slates) appears solid, the walls are in fair order, even the old woodwork could pass at a pinch. The "gardens" to the rear wouldn't look out of place in Malaya.
We know that the old "Church Lane" (to the near side) which ran to the rear of the Church, and then back down to Walkergate, was closed about 1829. Surely the owners of this house aren't worried that the path may still be a public way ?

Why is this house lying empty ?
Alnwick main street.
Alnwick, the town of a hundred shop closures, and yet the "Best Place to live in Britain" according to the "Country Life" magazine Property Section.
One of the problems of small towns is that the traders see a captive market, and milk it for all it's worth. Prices in local shops can be absolutely outrageous -- if it were not for shops like Woolworth and WH Smith, there would be little competition for many items.

It would appear that the Council is actively promoting a policy of pushing Alnwick southwards, with the intention of having "the old town" full of craft shops. Mind, the town is just about there already ...
The Alnwick Gardens, and a new bus station ?
One of the oddest features of the new Alnwick Garden project (a charity that charges for entry, gets volunteers to pay to work for nothing, and seems immune to asking for planning permission) is that it uses a secondary entrance near the rear of the Playhouse (at the far end of the road in the picture to the left).
For the Alnwick Gardens to achieve maximum profit, it would naturally only use a single exit : that down the Denwick Road, near to Allerburn House.
The picture to the left shows Greenwell Road, which runs at the back of the White Swan. The car parks here are a major source of income for the Council, although they are poorly laid out for maximum parking revenue.
There is a growing school of thought that this is the natural location for a bus station to replace the existing one by Safeway. There is certainly plenty of room, and although the single road leading in and out is narrow, it is possible that an additional road could be built through the site of Blackshaws onto the Bondgate Without (and buses would use a "one-way" system.

Now, whilst this is still speculation, it would tie in with car parking facilities being provided elsewhere (for the Gardens' convenience), the constant murmuring over Blackshaws Garage future, plus the problem of keeping Safeway sweet over the new Tesco supermarket (which would mean less parking demand in central Alnwick anyway).
Amazingly, several property surveyors were seen examining this very problem at the end of Januray 2003.

It seems that nothing is too much for the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland. Just imagine, a bus station right outside that Castle and Gardens entrance ...

Perhaps Alnwick's traders will wake up soon to the very real threat posed by the shops in the Alnwick Gardens. In fact, Alnwick could soon find itself as merely a satellite of the Alnwick Castle/Gardens complex.

One last mention of the Alnwick Gardens -- they now boast licensed premises (until 11pm), and are actively touting themselves for hosting exclusive private functions.

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