Would Northumberland's Percy family and Alnwick Castle fit in the world of hit Netflix series Bridgerton

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Since Christmas, over 80 million households have been glued to Netflix’s racy drama Bridgerton.

It is set in the Regency era from 1813 and features the turbulent lives and loves of the British aristocracy – notably the powerful Bridgerton family and the Duke and Duchess of Hastings.

So what of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland in the same period? Did their lives run along parallel lines at Alnwick Castle and in their London residences?

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In 1813 we find Hugh Percy, 2nd Duke of Northumberland and his duchess Frances in residence at Alnwick Castle, but only for four more years as Hugh died in 1817. Frances was his second wife and she had married the duke

The Percy family and Alnwick Castle.The Percy family and Alnwick Castle.
The Percy family and Alnwick Castle.

in 1779, four years after her sister Isabella had married the 2nd Duke’s brother Algernon.

Hugh and Frances’ fourth child (but first boy), also named Hugh, became the 3rd Duke in 1817 at the age of 32. He is described as a ‘chattering, good humoured, civil young man’. Earlier that year he had married Charlotte Florentia Clive.

Author Walter Scott, who had dined with Hugh and Charlotte described them as ‘formal and old-fashioned’ so they may not have fitted into the glamorous world of Bridgerton.

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Records show the couple spending their time between Alnwick Castle and their houses in London.

Alnwick Castle.Alnwick Castle.
Alnwick Castle.

While at Syon House, one of their main London residences (where Bridgerton was also filmed), Charlotte busied herself with the redecoration of rooms like the Long Gallery.

Marble busts of the couple are still displayed here and if you look closely while watching Bridgerton you can see these sculptures in the background of some scenes.

The couple were keen botanists and plant collectors. Hugh grew pineapples in the garden hothouses and introduced asparagus to the gardens.

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Meanwhile at Alnwick Castle, Charlotte created an Italian-style flower garden.

Hugh Percy, 3rd Duke of Northumberland.Hugh Percy, 3rd Duke of Northumberland.
Hugh Percy, 3rd Duke of Northumberland.

A small number of letters by Charlotte survive which give an indication of her other interests. In 1821, she described a dairy she had set up near Alnwick Castle to produce butter and cream and a school for up to 50 girls. She was also an artist – her views of Alnwick and Warkworth castles were published in 1824.

The 3rd Duke was also an MP, using his first speech in 1806 as an opportunity to show his strong support for the abolition of the slave trade.

In 1825, Hugh was chosen by King George IV to be ‘Ambassador Extraordinary’ at the upcoming coronation of King Charles X of France.

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Novelist Victor Hugo records the events of the coronation and mentions the Duke of Northumberland as being ‘fabulously wealthy’.

The duke played host to a spectacular ball. It was so magnificent, Hugo reported, ‘every woman found a diamond in her bouquet’.

In 1847, Hugh Percy, 3rd Duke of Northumberland, died. Charlotte, who had gone on to be a governess to Princess Victoria, survived him by nearly 20 years, but the couple had no surviving children.

The dukedom, and Alnwick Castle, passed to Hugh’s younger brother Algernon. As 4th Duke, Algernon restored Alnwick Castle, creating the State Rooms as visitors see them today, but portraits of the 3rd Duke and Duchess still hang in the Dining Room.

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We may not see them as characters on Netflix any time soon, but their influence can still be seen two centuries later.

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