Enquire about Collections & Archives

Generations of the Percy family have demonstrated a passion for collecting. As a result Northumberland Estates is the custodian of one of the finest private collection of art in the world as well as paintings, furniture, sculpture, books and manuscripts of great historical importance and interest.

Significant amongst the paintings is the Camuccini Collection, purchased in Rome by the 4thDuke in 1854. Thought to be the last and possibly greatest purchase of its type made by an Englishman abroad, the collection contains 74 paintings including works by Bellini, Raphael and Guido Reni. Other famous works housed at Alnwick Castle and Syon House include paintings by Canaletto, Turner, Titian and Van Dyck.

The library at Alnwick Castle contains over 14,000 books. Some of these form part of a collection started by the 9th Earl in the 16th century and recognised as one of the finest personal Renaissance libraries in England at the time.

Northumberland Estates also houses one of the largest private archives in the UK. It contains documentation on both Northumberland Estates and the Percy family over many centuries and the information contained is used in research by scholars from around the world. Further information of items within the collection and on how to obtain information from the archives can be found below.

Key Contact

Clare Baxter

Collections and Archives Manager

+44(0)1665 511124Email Me
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Using the Archives

The Northumberland Collection and Archive is privately owned and fully funded by the Percy family. It is open strictly by advance appointment only. The Archives and Collections staff are happy to assist with enquiries for academic and personal research and can provide images upon request. Due to the large number of enquiries received there is a charge for this service.

For more information click here.

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Case Study

Henry Percy and the Battle of Waterloo

2015 marks the bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo. A new exhibition at Alnwick Castle celebrates the heroic role played by a little known member of the Percy family.

In 1815, Henry was appointed Aide de Camp to the Duke of Wellington. On 16th June, Wellington and his officers were all attending the Duchess of Richmond’s Ball in Brussels, when the news was received that Napoleon had crossed the frontier. Wellington reportedly exclaimed ‘Napoleon has humbugged me, by God; he has gained 24 hours’ march on me!’

Henry Percy left the dance floor, still in his dress uniform, and was straight into action, at the battle of Quatre Bras. From there, it was on to Waterloo where the famous battle was fought on the 18th June 1815. This day saw the defeat of one of history’s greatest military leaders, the Emperor Napoleon, putting an end to years of conflict across Europe.

Conveying news of this important victory back to England fell to Wellington’s ADC and trusted friend, Major Henry Percy. Alongside the dispatch Percy was given two eagle standards, captured in battle from the French army, to lay at the feet of the Prince Regent.

Henry traveled in a carriage and four via Ghent to the French king in exile, and on to Ostend. There he commandeered HMS Peruvian to sail the Channel, only to end up becalmed half way across. So it was ‘out gig’ and Henry Percy, the Captain and four sailors rowed to the English shore, arriving at Broadstairs.

Securing a post chaise and horses from the village, they galloped on into London, arriving shortly before midnight. Henry found the Cabinet at dinner in Grosvenor Square and delivered the dispatch to the Minister for War, Earl Bathhurst. This was, by now, three days after the battle.

Percy then headed for St James Square where the Prince Regent was attending a ball. An eye witness account describes how, as the first quadrille was forming everyone rushed to the windows, the music ceased and the dance was stopped. A noisy mob was approaching surrounding a carriage. As the carriage door opened, out sprang Henry Percy, a dusty figure with a flag in each hand. Darting into the ballroom he stepped up to the Prince Regent, dropped to one knee and laid the flags at his feet pronouncing the famous words “Victory, Sir, Victory”.

Among the many artefacts included in a very personal tribute to this little known hero and ancestor of the current Duke are the uniform and sword that Henry Percy bore at Waterloo, alongside personal letters, which help to bring the entire story to life. Attending a special evening opening of the exhibition were the Duke and Lady Victoria, as well as Professor Brian Cathcart whose new book “The News from Waterloo: the Race to Tell Britain of Wellington’s Victory” celebrates the role played by Major Henry Percy.

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Case Study

Fine Furniture and Carving

The State Rooms at Alnwick Castle showcase a unique display of furniture and woodwork, much of it created by the craftsmen of the Alnwick School of Carving, formed in late 1800’s. Keen on restoring the Castle, the 4th Duke employed architect Anthony Salvin to remodel the interiors. The designs incorporated much intricate woodwork, so rather than bring over skilled Italian craftsmen to do the work, the Duke decided to train local craftsmen in the style. The results can be seen in the spectacular wooden ceilings, doors and window shutters of the State Rooms. One shutter panel alone is said to have occupied a year of a craftsman’s time.

Also on display are the famous and priceless Cucci Cabinets. Made by the Italian furniture-maker Domenico Cucci and completed in 1683 for King Louis XIV of France’s palace at Versailles, the cabinets were purchased by the 3rd Duke in the early 1820s. Having survived the French revolution intact and as a pair, the cabinets have recently been restored. Meticulously decorated, the pietra dura panels feature birds, flowers, monkeys and dogs picked out in precious and semi-precious stones. Totally unique, they have been described as one of the rarest pieces of furniture in the world.

    Meet The Team

    Christopher Hunwick

    Archivist+44 (0)1665 510777