Alnwick Castle is full of surprises! Behind its iconic walls lie lavish State Rooms filled with a stunning array of art and furniture, collected over the years by generations of the Percy family, the earls and dukes of Northumberland.
Despite their imposing nature, the rooms still contain the personal touches of a family home.
Rooms open to the public include the Guard Chambers, the Ante-Library, the Library, the Saloon, the Drawing Room, the Dining Room, the Breakfast Room, the China Gallery and the Chapel.
Don't miss these highlights
The magnificent Library occupies the Prudhoe Tower, and was restored to its present state by Algernon, the 4th Duke of Northumberland, in the 1850s.
Floor to ceiling bookshelves house an impressive collection of just under 14,000 books. Amongst them is one of the finest personal libraries in England, compiled by the 9th Earl in the early 17th century. This unfortunate Percy was imprisoned in the Tower of London, and resorted to his books to fend off the boredom.
One of the most beautiful features of the Library are the ceiling trophies, designed by Giovanni Montiroli. These depict scenes of art, music, science, archaeology and the navy, the passions of the 4th Duke.
The Dining Room
Refurbished in 2005-2006, the Dining Room was returned to its original splendour under the watchful eye of the present Duchess of Northumberland.
Look out for the intricate white marble chimney piece, carved in Italy c.1825 by sculptors Nucci and Strazza, which was restored after suffering from years of dirt. Try and find the name of the makers, 'Nucci of Rome', carved discreetly among the garlands of Italianate foliage.
The room is dominated by the enormous mahogany table, which extends to over 33 feet in length. On display is the 19th century family silver, giving visitors an insight into the pomp and ceremony involved in dinner at Alnwick Castle.
The Drawing Room
This room was refurbished in 2009, bringing it back to its original glory. This room contains some unique treasures, including the rare Cucci Cabinets.
The Drawing Room also has wonderful examples of the exquisite carving that can be seen throughout the State Rooms. Its remarkable ceiling carving and frieze were painted and designed by the Italian artist Alessandro Mantovani in the mid 19th century.
The ornate wooden carving was completed by the Alnwick School of Carving, set up in the 19th century by the 4th Duke of Northumberland. It was intended to provide English carvers with the skills of their continental counterparts, and engaged brilliant European carvers such as the Florentine, Anton Leon Bulletti to pass on their talents.