Some say that locations are almost as important as actors in films. If you fancy recreating Harry Potter on film moments, these are the top places to visit in Oxford. Check out these spots and start planning your next Harry Potter adventure!
Christ Church College
It will come as no surprise the most iconic Harry Potter scenes were all filmed at the most magnificent and architecturally imposing of all the Oxford Colleges, the 16th century Christ Church. Far more alluring than the on-screen locations, Christ Church is within easy reach for European viewers. It’s the only college in the world which is also a cathedral and was originally founded by Thomas Wolsey, Lord Chancellor of England, as Cardinal’s College in 1524.
Christ Church’s Great Hall, the centre of the lively student life within the college, became an inspiration for Hogwarts’ own Great Hall. It’s not a surprise its Renaissance splendour attracted the makers of the Harry Potter films as until the 1870s this was the largest Hall in Oxford. Interestingly, the Hall has been in almost constant use since the 16th century where members of the college can eat three daily meals including a formal dinner in the evenings where gowns must be worn.
Did you know
Thanks to the film series visits to the cathedral have risen to over 350,000 a year!
Its brilliance can truly overpass one’s imagination, but there were times when its glory was threatened by a fire which broke out in the Hall in 1720. During your visit make sure to admire its magnificent ceiling, portraits, and stained glass windows.
The grand staircase in the heart of Bodley Tower leads up to the Great Hall, which was used in both The Philosopher’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets. It’s here that Professor McGonagall says “Welcome to Hogwart’s” when the new students arrive. Its dramatic fanned vaulting of the ceiling was installed just before the civil war, in 1638.
Christ Church‘s gothic cloisters are also in The Philosopher’s Stone where Harry is shown the trophy his father won as a ‘seeker’ many years before.
Oxford University’s Bodleian Library
Even more fun is watching iconic locations in your favourite Harry Potter films and then later visiting the spots where they took place. If you fancy stepping right into the screen, you need to make sure to visit the 17th-century Bodleian Library. The largest university library system in the UK which is also one of the oldest libraries in Europe.
This is one of the most popular tourist locations in Oxford, starring in three of the Harry Potter films. The Bodleian’s collections include a Gutenberg Bible dating from around 1455, four original Magna Carta manuscripts and several of the papyrus scrolls that were carbonised by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.
The medieval Duke Humfrey’s Library, the oldest reading room still in use today, has more than 80 miles of book shelves, making it one of the most complete libraries in the world. Amongst its shelves you can find manuscripts and mysterious works, including an ancient book of spells and witchcraft. It’s not a surprise its intricate interior from 1488 was actually used as Hogwarts library in The Philosopher’s Stone.
The Divinity School made a fitting setting for Hogwart’s infirmary and is also where Professor McGonnagal taught students to dance in The Goblet of Fire. Its unforgettable elaborate fan-vaulted features, described by experts as a “masterpiece of English Gothic architecture”, features images of beasts and biblical scenes. It’s also the university’s oldest teaching and examination room, dating from the 1500s.
You can visit the Bodleian Library as part of an organised tour to see where Oscar Wilde, CS Lewis, and JRR Tolkien once studied.
Do you recall the scene where Draco Maufoy says to Harry “You won’t last 10 seconds” under a tree? That famous 19th-century giant oak tree is part of Oxford University’s New College, founded in 1379. Despite its name, New College is one of the oldest of the Oxford colleges and was originally established for the education of priests, there being a shortage of properly educated clergy after the Black Death. It’s here where Draco sat right before being turned into a ferret in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
You should also be able to recognise New College’s 15th-century cloisters in several scenes of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The cloisters, considered by some as the most impressive in the University, were used for musketry training and for military stores in the Civil War and the First World War.
You won’t be disappointed by the famous dining hall, said to be the oldest in both Oxford and Cambridge. Interestingly, New College was the first college in Oxford to be designed around the main quadrangle which has been the pattern for most of the Oxford and Cambridge colleges, as well as U.S. Ivy League colleges, built ever since.
Have you visited any of these places? I would love to hear about your experiences!