Alnwick Probus Club, January meeting

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The January meeting of the Alnwick Probus Club was indeed memorable.

Chris Hunwick, archivist to the Duke of Northumberland, explained the duties of his position and gave an insight of the contents of the Ducal records with a potted biography of three of the past heads of the Percy family.

The historic documents held in a medieval tower of the castle are quite amazing. They include the document recording the sale of the castle by the Bishop of Durham to Henry Lord Percy in 1309, 15th century agreements between the fourth earl and Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later the infamous Richard the Third), and even the excecution warrant, signed by Elizabeth I, which brought about the death of the seventh Earl of Northumberland.

Mr Hunwick explained the problems of storing, protecting and restoring the priceless documents which are susceptible to damage by sunlight, moisture content and even to the acidic atmosphere which our modern activities have created.

On the biographical topic, Mr Hunwick explained how adept the Percys had been at switching sides more than once during the Wars of the Roses and the Civil War, but not adept enough to always keep their lives. Several family members were killed during battles, periods of civil disorder and on the excecution block for high treason. Despite these huge setbacks the Percys are still ensconced in Alnwick Castle where they preside over the running of their large business empire.

Mr Hunwick is a fascinating man in an engrossing job. His talk, lasting about an hour, followed by a lively disscussion, could have gone on for several hours longer, still holding the members of Alnwick Probus Club enthralled.

The February meeting of Probus, to be held on February 11, at Alnwick Cricket Club, is being addressed on the subject of Lord Lambton’s Railway Works at Chester-le-Street. Prospective members should contact Bill Bland on 01669 620572 or at bland.thropton@tiscali.co.uk