The Harry Potter films bring a childlike magic, as well as an imposing scale, to many of the UK’s country houses, cathedrals and other tourist attractions that were used in the shooting of the films.
It should be said that many of Harry Potter’s scenes are composites of several different locations. When Harry catches the Hogwarts Express from platform 9¾ by running through the wall, for instance, the scene was actually filmed on platform 4 at King’s Cross Station, London. The exterior of the station was nearby St Pancreas Station.
Still, if you want to thrill the kids, look for the cast-iron Platform 9¾ sign on a wall in the building housing platforms 9 and 10 in King’s Cross Station (it’s in a separate building to the main station concourse). They’ll be shocked to see the half luggage trolley that appears to be sticking out of the wall; just don’t let them try to run through it!
The Harry Potter books are some of the best-selling children’s books in history. The books and films follow 11-year-old Harry as he discovers he is a wizard and attends Hogwarts, a boarding school for young witches and wizards to learn their crafts.
Oxford’s Christ Church College and Bodleian Library were also used and are well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area. The great hall at Christ Church was used for some of Hogwarts interior shots, including the dining hall, while the Bodleian Library was one of the locations used for Hogwarts’ Library.
Bodleian Library is part of Oxford’s world-famous university and can only be seen as part of a guided tour. Christ Church College is open every day except Christmas, though the hall itself closes from 12-2pm.
Oxford’s academic prowess is recognised worldwide and the university is a popular tourist attraction, not least during its annual boat race with Cambridge. Oxford is dominated by 36 university colleges, the most famous being Christ Church and Trinity. All are within easy walking distance of each other, mostly based in the city centre.
Scholars have been drawn to Oxford for the past 800 years. Its gleaming spires and the city as a whole were also made famous by the filming of Inspector Morse during its 13 year run.
Oxford’s mix of the historic and modern, colleges, museums, shops and restaurants – not to forget its role in Harry Potter – make the city a tourist favourite.
If you’re flying into the UK, the nearest airport to Oxford is London’s Heathrow International. Heathrow and Gatwick Airport are both connected to Oxford via The Airline coach company, with buses leaving every 20 minutes from Heathrow and every hour from Gatwick.
Trains leave Paddington Station in London every 30 minutes and take approximately one hour. The A40 leads to Oxford (take the M25 to the M40 if coming from London, then get off at the A40 towards Oxford).