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The Percy family of Alnwick Castle — that splendid, 150-room, heavily crenellated, many-towered magnificence perched on a rocky outcrop above the River Aln in Northumberland — have not, traditionally, lived long or quiet lives.
Over the past thousand years, the Barons, Earls and Dukes of Northumberland have rebelled against monarchs, battled relentlessly with Scots and shuttled in and out of the Tower of London on various charges of treason.
Others - Drawn - Heads - Spikes - Cities
Some have been shot, others hung, drawn and quartered, and a few had their heads displayed on spikes in cities around the country after a disastrous uprising against Henry IV in 1403.
Time and again, Percys have popped up throughout history. The great Sir Henry ‘Hotspur’ Percy, who led endless rebellions against Henry IV of England and was slain at the Battle of Shrewsbury, was immortalised in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part I.
Earl - Anne - Boleyn - Henry - VIII
The 6th Earl was secretly engaged to Anne Boleyn before she became Henry VIII’s second wife, the 7th was beheaded, the 8th was shot dead in the Tower and the 9th was thought to be involved in the Guy Fawkes Gunpowder Plot and was incarcerated for 16 years.
Their sprawling home — now the second-largest privately inhabited castle after Windsor — bears the scars of centuries.
Musket - Pockmarks - Oliver - Cromwell - Army
There are musket pockmarks, made by Oliver Cromwell’s army, in the yellow sandstone. A suit of armour hangs above one door. In the cone-shaped dungeon, the screams of doomed Scots are all too imaginable.
Oh, yes, and in the main entrance, a maroon board offers Broomstick Training sessions on the very spot where Daniel Radcliffe had his first flying lesson in Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone.
Latter - Courtesy - Ralph - Percy - Duke
The latter is courtesy of Ralph Percy, the 12th Duke, who, with the help of his energetic Duchess, Jane, has transformed Alnwick into one of Britain’s most visited attractions. He has now written a...
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