© Mr Alastair Cochrane ARPS
STABLE COURT AND COVERED RIDING SCHOOL INCLUDING WEST WALL OF RIDING SCHOOL,
ALNWICK, ALNWICK, NORTHUMBERLAND
Mr Alastair Cochrane ARPS
14 September 1999
20 February 1952
Date of last amendment:
20 February 1952
The Images of England website consists of images of listed buildings based on the statutory list as it was in 2001 and does not incorporate subsequent amendments to the list. For the statutory list and information on the current listed status of individual buildings please go to The National Heritage List for England.
20.2.52. The Castle.
Stable Court and
Covered Riding School
including West Wall of
NU 1813 NE 2/1
NU 1813 SE 1/1
Alnwick Castle has work of every period on the line of the original motte and bailey
plan. By 1138 a strong stone built border castle with a shell keep in place of
the motte, formed the nucleus of the present castle with 2 baileys enclosing about
7 acres. The curtain walls and their square towers rest on early foundations and
the inner gatehouse has round-headed arches with heavy chevron decoration. The
Castle was greatly fortified after its purchase by Henry de Percy 1309 - the Barbican
and Gatehouse, the semi-circular towers of the shell keep, the octagonal towers
of the inner gateway and the strong towers of the curtain wall date from the early
to mid C14. Ruinous by the C18, the 1st Duke had it rehabilitated and extended
by James Prince and Robert Adam, the latter being mainly concerned with the interior
decoration, very little of which remains except for fireplaces in the Housekeeper's
and the Steward's Rooms and for inside the present Estates Office range. Capability
Brown landscaped the grounds, filling in the former moat (formed by Bow Burn).
The 4th Duke employed Anthony Salvin 1854-65 at the cost of £1/4 million to remove
Adam's fanciful Gothic decoration, to restore a serious Gothic air to the exterior
and to redesign the state rooms in an imposing grand Italian manner.
The Castle is approached from Bailliff gate through the crenellated Barbican and
Gatehouse (early C14): lion rampant (replica) over archway, projecting square side
towers with corbelled upper parts, fortified passage over dry moat to vaulted gateway
flanked by polygonal towers. Stone figures on crenellations here, on Aveners Tower,
on Record Tower and on Inner Gateway were carved circa 1750-70 by Johnson of Stamfordham
and probably reflect an earlier similar arrangement.
In the Outer Bailey to the, north are the West Garrett (partly Norman), the Abbott's
Tower (circa 1350) with a rib vaulted basement, and the Falconer's Tower (1856).
To the south are the Aveners Tower [C18], the Clock Tower leading into the Stable
Yard, the C18 office block, the Auditor's Tower (early Clk) and the Middle Gateway
(circa 1309-15) leading to the Middle Bailey. The most prominent feature of the
Castle on the west side is the very large Prudhoe Tower by Salvin and the polygonal
apse of the chapel near to it.
In the Middle Bailey, to the south are the Warders Tower (1856) with the lion gateway
leading by a bridge to the grand stairs into the walled garden, the East Garrett
and the Record Tower (C14, rebuilt 1885). In the curtain wall to the north are
2 blocked windows probably from an early C17 building now destroyed and the 'Bloody
Gap', a piece of later walling possibly replacing a lost truer; next a small C14
watch tower (Hotspur's Seat); next the Constable's Tower, early C14 and unaltered
with a gabled staircase turret; close by is the Postern Tower, early C14, also
unaltered.'To the north-west of the Postern Tower is a large terrace made in the
C18, rebuilt 1864-65, with some old cannon on it.
The Keep is entered from the Octagon Towers (circa 1350) which have 13 heraldic
shields below the parapet, besides the agotrop3ic figures, and a vaulted passage
expanded from the Norman gateway (fragments of chevron on former outer arch are
visible inside). The present arrangement of the inner ward is largely Salvin's
work with a covered entrance with a projecting storey and lamp-bracket at the rear
of the Prudhoe Tower and a corbelled corridor at 1st floor level on the east.
Mediaeval draw well on the east wall, next to the original doorway to the keep,
now a recess The keep, like the curtain walls, is largely mediaeval except for
some C18 work on the interior on the west and for the Prudhoe Tower and the Chapel.
The interior contrasts with the rugged mediaeval exterior with its sumptuous Renaissance
decoration, largely by Italians - Montiroli, Nucci, Strazza, Mantavani and inspired
from Italian sources. The chapel with its family gallery at the east end has 4
short rib vaulted bays and a shallow 3-light apse; side walls have mosaics, covered
now with tapestry. The grand staircase With its groin vaulted ceiling leads to
the Guard Chamber from which an ante-room leads west into the Library (in the Prudhoe
Tower) and east into the Music Room (fireplace with Dacian captives by Nucci).
Further on are the Red Drawing Room (caryatid fireplace by Nucci) and the Dining
Room (ceiling design copied from St Lorenzo f.l.m. in Rome and fireplace with bacchante
by Strazza and faun by Nucci).
South of the Middle Gateway are Salvin's impressive Kitchen quarters where the
oven was designed to burn a ton of coal per day. West of the Stable Courtyard,
with C19 Guest Hall at the south end, is the C19 covered riding school, with stable
to north of it, and with its west wall forming the east side of Narrowgate. The
corner with Bailliffgate has an obtuse angled tower of 2 storeys, with a depressed
ogee headed doorway from the street, and merlons.