- Historic Sites
The Treasure Of Alnwick Castle
Behind the ancient towers of his Northumberland home are the unique Revolutionary War battle maps of the general who saved the British from disaster at Lexington
August 1969 | Volume 20, Issue 5
Afternoon shadows lengthened as we followed Lord Hugh Percy’s American Revolutionary progress; maps of Boston gave way to those of Canada, of Staten Island, of Fort Washington, and finally of Newport, whence he had returned, making a full report to the king at Kew before he came to visit in this very house. About five o’clock the Duke rejoined us. “You must be very tired,” he said. “You ought to have some tea.” He introduced us to his children; an older daughter joined us for family tea with the younger ones. Then he took us to see the rooms, pictures, china, and furnishings in his castle that he himself likes best.
Next morning we finished the Earl Percy collection and worked in the library attempting to decipher the American place names on a white vellum map of the world made in 1616 by Edward Wright for the ninth Earl of Northumberland, the “Wizard Earl,” then imprisoned in the Tower of London. Sir Walter Raleigh had been in the Tower too, and had used this map in planning his last voyage, to Guiana. “I have to go hunting with Harry tomorrow,” the Duke had said when we asked if we might use morning light to study it, “but I’ll tell you what we’ll do: I’ll hide the keys to the case under this cloth, and you put them away here when you finish.” Next morning he came in in his riding habit to check on our progress and to say good-bye. His final kindness to us was his permission for this reproduction of Earl Hugh’s maps.