Though its history extends back much further, Alnwick is essentially a medieval market town. Situated almost equidistant between Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Berwick-upon-Tweed, it would have been a welcome rest for travellers along this main Northumberland thoroughfare.
Alnwick continues to be a thriving market town today, with twice-weekly markets, as well as more specialist events taking place in the designated square.Set within the market place is the old town hall, built in 1731 on the site of the former tollbooth.Opposite the town hall, the market cross stands grand above an octagonal flight of steps. It dates from the eighteenth century, though the cross head was replaced in the nineteenth century. It is from these steps that great events would have been proclaimed (such as the accession of a new monarch) and was also from where John Wesley preached when visiting the town in 1749.A narrow alleyway leads from the market square to Bondgate Within, one of the main streets in Alnwick. The section of the buildings directly opposite is said to have been built using stone from the first abbey at Alnwick, and used for guest accommodation for the later abbey.The corner of Market Street offers a fine view of Bondgate Within. The octagonal, domed Robertson’s Pant, dating from 1890, is located on the right-hand side. This is a drinking fountain given to the town by Adam Robertson, a leading figure in Alnwick politics.A little further along Bondgate Within is the White Swan Hotel, which is proud to be the current home of the first class lounge from the SS Olympic (1910-1936), the sister-ship to the Titanic.Just beyond the White Swan is Bondgate Tower, a fifteenth-century, three-storied defensive gatehouse, the only one remaining from four original gates in the medieval wall.And this ended a lovely stroll in Alnwick, but not before afternoon tea in the White Swan Hotel …
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For information, Alnwick is pronounced ‘Annick’. The sources for this article include the plaques around the town, Public Monuments and Sculpture Association for the Market Cross, British Listed Buildings for Robertson’s Pant and CastleUK for information on Bondgate Tower, and a PDF of an archaeological survey of Alnwick by Northumberland County Council.