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Alnwick

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ALNWICK, urban district and county-town of Northumber land, England, 309 m. N. by W. from London, on a branch of the L.N.E.R. ; Pop. of urban district (1931) 6,882. It is beautifully situated on the small river Aln, in a hilly district near the sea. Dominating the town from above the south bank of the river stands the castle, held by the Percys since 1309, and long before this an important border stronghold. A gateway of c. 135o and a fine Norman arch of the middle of the I2th cen tury are among noteworthy ancient portions. The castle has been extensively renovated and has largely lost its historic char acter. The town evidently grew up round the castle, and tradi tion states that it received its borough charter from King John, but it is first definitely mentioned as a borough in a charter given by William de Vescy in the reign of Henry II. According to an inquiry of 1291 a market and fair were held in Alnwick from time immemorial. Edward I., in addition, granted the bishop of Durham a market on Saturday, and a fair on March 17 and six following days. By charters of Henry VI. the burgesses received licence to enclose their town with a wall, to have a free port at Alnmouth, a market on Wednesday as well as Saturday, and two new fairs. Tanning and weaving were formerly the principal industries carried on in Alnwick, and in 1646 there were 2 2 tanneries there.

Remains of the town wall are visible, and one of the four gates, the Bondgate, stands, dating from the early part of the 5th century. The church of St. Michael has Norman remains, but is principally Perpendicular. Within the confines of, the park are ruins of two abbeys. Alnwick Abbey was a Premonstratensian foundation of 1147; only a gateway tower stands. Three miles from the town are more extensive remains of Hulne Abbey (124o), an early Carmelite monastery. The long narrow church remains unroofed ; there are also a gateway tower, and portions of the chapter-house and cloisters. The Norman chapel of the hospital of St. Leonard, and Alnwick Abbey, were founded by Eustace FitzJohn. Howick mansion, built in the i8th century, has a fine situation near the coast to the north-east. Not far away are the ruins of Dunstanborough Castle ; it dates from the i4th century, though the site was probably occupied as a strong hold from earlier times.

The chief industrie are brewing, tobacco, and fishing-tackle making. Alnwick is under an urban district council, but is a borough by prescription, and its freemen form a body corporate without authority over the affairs of the town.

town, district, remains and castle