The Dukes of Northumberland have known it for 700 years, but it is now official the small Northumberland town of Alnwick is the best place to live in Britain. In a survey measuring quality of life, Country Life magazine chose Alnwick home to the Dukes of Northumberland since 1309 ahead of second-placed Midhurst in West Sussex and Cornwall's Fowey, which tied with Gloucestershire's Tetbury in third place.
"It's just a beautiful place to live in," the 12th Duke of Northumberland said when asked what made the market town, population 8,000, so special. "There's fantastic scenery, good beaches, great fishing and the traffic is not as bad as London." The imposing presence of Alnwick castle used as Hogwarts wizardry school in the Harry Potter films also helped secure the town's victory.
Despite the northeast's inclement climate "the town scored no marks for that," said Country Life editor Clive Aslet Alnwick also beat its southern rivals in its low crime rates, provision of affordable housing and a variety of local shops. "We've got one of the best second-hand bookshops in the country," said the Duke. The survey did not measure economic prosperity. According to Aslet, a mix of beauty and communal spirit was considered more important than income. "It's about quality of life and if you want that, then a high income doesn't matter," he said. Alnwick is also just a 30-minute drive from Newcastle. "If I drive half-an-hour from my London office I'm still stuck in the Edgware Road," said Aslet.
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