Alnwick (pronounced Annick) is a historic town in Northumberland, north-east England. Although it has Anglo-Saxon origins, it came to prominence in the middle ages as the main power base of the Percy family, Earls (later Dukes) of Northumberland; Alnwick Castle, which was heavily restored in the 18th and 19th centuries (and its grounds recreated by Capability Brown), is still the family seat; and has been used in various movies, including Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, Elizabeth and as parts of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films. Alnwick is a popular tourist centre and boasts what is probably Britain's largest second-hand bookshop in its former railway terminus.
It has been voted the best country town in Britain by readers of Country Life magazine - whether because of or despite the annual melee is not clear. Each Shrove Tuesday (the day before the start of Lent) an all-in, all welcome, no holds barred sort of proto-football match, called the melee, is played by the River Aln. The goals are quarter of a mile apart. Players have been known to end up in the river.
Its name means "dwelling by the River Aln" and the pronunciation once engendered the anonymous limerick:
- There was a mechalnwick from Alnwick
- Whose opinions were very Germalnwick.
- So when war was begun
- He went off with a gun
- The proportions of which were Titalnwick.