The town dates to about ad 600, and thrived as an agricultural centre. The history of Alnwick is the history of the castle and its lords, starting with Gilbert Tyson, written variously as "Tison", "Tisson", and "De Tesson", one of William the Conqueror's standard bearers, upon whom this northern estate was bestowed. It was held by the De Vesci family (now spelt "Vasey" – a name found all over south-east Northumberland) for over 200 years, and then passed into the hands of the house of Percy in 1309.
The bookshop is located within the Victorian Alnwick railway station, designed by William Bell and opened in 1887. It was in use until the closure of the Alnwick branch line in 1968. Barter Books was opened in 1991
The current duke and his family live in the castle, but occupy only a part of it. The castle is open to the public throughout the summer. After Windsor Castle, it is the second largest inhabited castle in England
The Alnwick Garden is a complex of formal gardens adjacent to Alnwick Castle in the town of Alnwick, Northumberland, England. The gardens have a long history under the Dukes of Northumberland, but fell into disrepair until revived at the turn of the 21st century. The garden now features various themed plantings designed around a central water cascade. The revival of the gardens led to several public disputes between the Duchess of Northumberland and various garden experts concerning preservation and the use of public funds. The garden now belongs to a charitable trust, which is separate from Northumberland Estates, although the 12th Duke of Northumberland donated the 42-acre (17 ha) site and contributed £9 million towards redevelopment costs.