Two weeks ago today, I went to Evensong in Alnwick, at the Reformed Church. I parked in the market square not far from the early evening Boy Racers, who were just sitting in their cars with their girls, engines idling, eating chips. I had a wander around the town, and then went to find the church, where I was warmly welcomed. I had the chance to go back to Alnwick – pronounced AAN-ick – on a few other occasions, both on my own and with Michael and the Dafter, and I wanted to tell you a little bit about this interesting town. It nestles around the perimeter of the very large area taken up by Alnwick Castle (about which more in a future post). Here is one bit of the castle wall, which has a small Antiques shop in it. Sadly for me, it was shut on a Sunday evening:
I was amused by this sign on a door:
I imagined a Tailor-of-Gloucester-like cat (Simpkin is his name in the story, if I remember correctly?) bustling along on an errand, and letting himself in the door with a key!
Some of the buildings were very unusual, like this one:
I wish I could tell you which direction the mossy side of the building faced, and what conclusions one could draw from that about the prevailing wind.
I liked the market cross very much, with its intricate design. Perhaps that’s because it’s a bit like a knitted cable, or like Celtic knotwork:
An unmissable feature of the town is the “Bondgate,” which the guidebook in the cottage said used to be a prison as well as one of the medieval gates to the city. What I found interesting was that outside the gate (i.e. where that yellow car is heading in the photo), the street is called “Bondgate Without”, and the street where I stood to take this photo is called “Bondgate Within”.
On the topic of nomenclature, the name Alnwick comes from the River Aln and -wick, which I understand is the Norse for “bay”. (Just as there are a few “Uigs” in the Hebrides, and many placenames ending in -vig.) The names in the North-East of England were a constant source of delight to me. For example, “Twizell” “Old Mousen” and “Wide Open”; my very favourite was seen crossing a bridge over a river named “Eye Water”.
Lastly, here is another sign on a door that I liked:
Because we’ve had such an incredibly wet summer here in Britain, people are very concerned about the fate of the birds, particularly the migrating birds. The swallows in Alnwick, I’m pleased to say, were much in evidence and obviously have some good friends and allies.
Happy Sunday, everyone!