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Harry Potter Tour Oxford Film Locations

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Introduction

Thank you for choosing to take a self-guided tour with Free Tours By Foot. We believe in operating quality tours that are affordable to everybody, regardless of their budget and we hope that you enjoy your tour with us today.

 

 

Today, you have chosen to come along on our GPS-Enabled Self-Guided Harry Potter Walking Tour. This tour will see you walking in the footsteps of the world’s most famous wizard.

We’ll show you where iconic movie scenes were filmed, and where the filmmakers got their inspiration for the blockbuster series.

This self-guided tour is a little bit different, as you will need to purchase tickets - and occasionally be accompanied by a guide - to visit many of the locations.

We will highlight the ticketing options and guidelines you’ll need to follow for each stop. Note that many of the locations are on University campuses.

These schools are still operating and, as such, occasionally may be unexpectedly closed to the public.

We recommend taking this tour in the afternoon, as the locations tend to be less busy.


STOP 1

For the first part of your Harry Potter adventure, you’ll be visiting Christ Church College.

To visit locations at Christ Church, you must purchase a ticket. When inside the college, you will be accompanied by a guide when visiting the College Hall and The Bodley Staircase. For the cloisters, you will be allowed to visit on your own.

As of recording, ticket prices to enter Christ College are priced at £15.00 for adults and £14.00 for concessions.


Christ Church College Hall (Need Ticket)

When walking into the Christ Church College Great Hall, you will immediately feel as though you’ve walked into the Great Hall at Hogwarts.

And for good reason, the set designers for the Harry Potter films used this room as their inspiration for the Great Hall in the movies.

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Originally, the production team was trying to find a way to use the Great Hall in the films, but found that it wasn’t possible because not all 4 tables - where the students of the 4 Houses of Hogwarts dine - would fit inside.

After meticulously measuring and mapping almost every part of this room, a near complete recreation of the Hall was constructed at Leavesden Studios and used for all 8 of the Harry Potter films.

Take note that the Great Hall here is, in fact, still an actual dining hall. It has been in continuous use since the 16th century and still serves 3 meals a day to Christ Church students.

These days there are two dinner services - one standard sitting and a second, formal meal where gowns must be worn!


Christ Church College – Bodley Staircase (Need Ticket)

Just adjacent to the Great Hall is the Bodley Staircase. Built in 1805, you may recognise it as our first glimpse of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter films.

In The Philosopher’s Stone, Professor McGonagall is standing on top of the stairs, drumming her fingers on the stone as she awaits the arrival of the first years, who have travelled to Hogwarts via boat, before taking them into the Hall to face the Sorting Hat and join the welcome feast.

If you pay attention in that scene, you will spot the Great Hall behind her and this is the actual Great Hall you have just visited.

The staircase is seen again in one of the final scenes of Philosopher’s Stone, where the trio are reunited after defeating Professor Quirrell.

The staircase was also used in Chamber of Secrets. After Ron and Harry arrive at Hogwarts in an enchanted Ford Anglia, they race up the stairs, trying to get to the welcome feast before anybody realises they are missing.

Unfortunately they run into Filch before they can get into the hall. We see the stairs again in the second film as the location where Tom Riddle speaks to Dumbledore - an encounter we get to see through the perspective of Riddle’s diary.


Christ Church College Cloisters (Need Ticket)

Before becoming a University, the buildings here were part of a Priory that was established in 1122.

Rebuilt in 1499, these cloisters were common features in monastic establishments as they provided a path for monks to move throughout the building without being disturbed by the outside world.

From the cloisters you can also glimpse the nearby Cathedral spire - the oldest surviving stone spire in England, completed in 1230.

Christ Church College Cloister
Christ Church College by Magnus D (CC BY 2.0), by Flickr

By the time of the Reformation in the 16th century, the monks that lived here were evicted and Thomas Wolsey began creating a College on this site.

Henry VIII would eventually take over the project, renaming the buildings Christ Church College, but keeping most of the original structures - such as these cloisters.

Throughout the creation of the Harry Potter movies there was quite a bit of filming in the cloisters - you may recall images of students passing through these walkways in between bigger scenes.

There was one major scene in Philosopher’s Stone that was filmed right here, that you may remember. This is the location of a trophy case, where Hermione shows Harry trophies his father, James, had won during his time playing quidditch at Hogwarts.

The exact location this scene was filmed is just outside the current Christ Church gift shop.

 


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STOP 2

Next, you will be visiting the Bodleian Library - also known as Duke Humfrey’s Library - and The Divinity School. To access these two locations, you will need to join a guided tour and there are two to choose from: A 30 minute tour or a 60 minute tour which incorporates additional buildings.

At the time of recording, the 30 minute tour is £9.00 and the 60 minute tour is £12.00.


Bodleian Library – Duke Humfrey’s Library (Guided Tour Only)

As you enter the library, you may recognise the seemingly never-ending stacks of books as part of the Restricted Section in Hogwarts Library.

It’s easy to see why they chose to film here - the floor-to-ceiling stacks of books - making up over 80  miles worth of shelf space, the beautifully bound spines of rare and ancient books, and the eerie sense of history that hangs in the room.

Duke Humfrey’s Library is the oldest reading room in the Bodleian Library and is named after Humphrey of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Gloucester who was a 15th century connoisseur of literature.

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When he died in 1447, he donated his collection of 281 books to the University of Oxford which was quite impressive given that, at the time, Oxford University only had 20 books!

Sadly, because of events such as the Reformation (which saw the burning of any materials that could be considered linked to Roman Catholicism - regardless of whether they were indeed linked or not), only three of the Duke’s original books survive.

The library as you see it now was restored between 1598 - 1632 - giving it the Hogwarts-esque look it has today.

The library was used twice during the creation of the Harry Potter films. Firstly, in the Philosopher’s Stone, it was used for the scene where Harry wears his invisibility cloak and creeps to the Restricted Section late at night, hoping to find information on Nicholas Flamel.

It appeared again in Half-Blood Prince in the scene where Harry and Hermione are talking about Slughorn’s Christmas party.

You may also recall that the books in the Restricted Section are charmed to loudly scream should somebody try to take a book they are not permitted to - and that is the case here, too!

Well, almost. No screaming, but the books are fixed with an alarm system that goes off if anybody touches them so make sure to keep your hands and wands to yourselves!


Divinity School (Need Ticket)

Built between 1427 and 1483, the Divinity School is the oldest surviving purpose-built building at any university - although it is no longer in use today.

The ornate ceiling is made up of lierne vaulting and sports 455 bosses so make sure to take a moment to take in all the details.

Despite the name of this beautiful space, Professor Trelawney’s Divination classes weren’t filmed here. Instead, this space was used as the Hogwarts Infirmary Ward throughout the Potter films. We see this space a number of times…

Firstly, in The Philosopher’s Stone, this is where Harry recovers after his confrontation with Volemort at the end of the film.

Secondly, in Chamber of Secrets, we see the Divinity School a few times -  when Harry must regrow his bones after Lockhart removed them, when Dobby comes to see Harry after causing him an accident and also when Hermione is petrified and Harry pays her a visit.

In Prisoner of Azkaban, the Divinity School is the background in a key scene where Harry and Hermione leave Ron behind to go back in time to try to save Buckbeak and Sirius.

And in Half Blood Prince, Ron winds up here after accidentally ingesting both poison and a love potion!

Also take note that this room was also used in Goblet of Fire, as it is here where Professor McGonagall attempts to teach the students of Gryffindor how to dance properly in preparation for the Yule Ball.

You may also recognise the Divinity School from other films such as Mary, Queen of Scots and The Favourite.

 


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STOP 3

Now you will be visiting New College. If you are visiting between November and February, then entry is free. If you are visiting from March to October, you will need to purchase a ticket which, at time of recording, is £5.00. Once inside, you can explore on your own.


New College – Cloisters (March - Oct Ticket Nov - Feb FREE)

Despite the name, New College is actually one of the oldest colleges in Oxford. Originally founded in 1375 as a school for priests, today the college welcomes students from all over the world.

You may recognise these corridors as soon as you enter as you will have seen these cloisters many times - primarily in the Goblet of Fire.

Quite a few scenes from that movie were recorded here, both transitional scenes of students walking through the corridors as well as the background for two notable scenes.

New College cloisters Oxford
New College cloisters Oxford by Hans Splinter (CC BY-ND 2.0), by Flickr

Firstly, this is where Harry, having found out what the first of the Tri Wizard tasks is going to be, looks for Cedric Diggory so that he can warn him about what they are going to face.

To do so, Harry has to push his way through crowds of students - who are all flashing ‘Potter Stinks’ badges in his face.

Secondly, during the Yule Ball, Harry steps outside and hides in the cloisters when he discovers Professor Snape and Igor Karkaroff (headmaster of Durmstrang Institute) in the courtyard.

Harry sees Snape peering inside all of the parked carriages, trying to find and turf out students who have snuck out of the party to find privacy in the quiet coaches.

After evicting one unfortunate couple (and deducting 10 points from Hugglepuff and Ravenclaw) Igor turns on and then lunges at Snape in an attempt to look at his Dark Mark having noticed that his own is growing darker by the day.

Harry witnesses the exchange tucked right behind the walls of this cloister.


New College – Courtyard & Tree

From the cloisters you can make your way to the beautiful courtyard, which is where Harry manages to catch up to Cedric to let him know about the dragons.

While here, you’ll notice a large tree in the courtyard and it is said to be over 200 years old. It also happens to be the location of one of the more memorable scenes in Goblet of Fire.

Harry is walking through the courtyard and hears Malfoy calling his name. He looks over to find him sitting in that oak tree.

When Malfoy slides out of the tree, he confronts Harry and tells him that he doesn’t think he will last 10 minutes in the Tri Wizard Tournament and that his father, Lucius, says he won’t even last 5.

After some harsh words Harry turns to walk away and, unbeknownst to him, Malfoy has drawn his wand and is aiming it at his back.

Professor Moody spots this and immediately stuns Malfoy before turning him into a ferret! Eventually Professor McGonagall appears and, realising the ferret is a student, turns Malfoy back to his original form.

 


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STOP 4

Shop of Secrets

If you’re looking to buy some Harry Potter merchandise, then this is where you need to be. The Shop of Secrets opened in 2019 - making it the first store in Oxford to exclusively and specifically sell only Potter memorabilia.

It’s a family business run by Harry Potter fanatics, and it shows. The shelves here are well stocked with merchandise relating to all four Hogwarts houses as well as all your favourite characters.

You’ll find almost everything you could want here including a full range of apparel and jewelry, collectables and magical creatures, stationery and wands and even wizarding treats and drinks!


STOP 5

Eagle and Child Pub

Okay, we will be honest and say that this pub doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with Harry Potter - but that doesn’t mean it has no literary links.

The Eagle and Child (nicknamed The Bird and the Baby), is one of the most famous pubs in Oxford and is an absolute must visit for a drink or some traditional pub food.

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The age of the pub is not quite known but the first recorded mention of it comes from 1684 with a reference to the Early of Derby whose family crest depicts a new born baby in an eagles nest.

But the fame of the pub comes from it’s many former patrons - in particular, The Inklings.

The Inklings were a group of authors and literary enthusiasts who were focused on the value of narrative in fiction and support of the writing of fantasy.

Throughout the 1930’s and 40’s, the group, who routinely met at the Eagle and Child on Mondays and Tuesdays, had around 15 primary members, but another dozen or so who visited with them from time to time.

The best known of the Inklings are C. S. Lewis (who wrote the Chronicles of Narnia) and J. R. R. Tolken (who wrote the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series). Perhaps it is these authors who Joanne was thinking of when she decided that her pen name should be J. K. Rowling?

 


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STOP 6

Museum of Natural History - Props and Costumes (Knight Bus Scene)

Oxford’s Museum of Natural History was established in 1850 and is housed in a beautiful neo-gothic building. You won’t recognise it when you go inside, as none of the Harry Potter films were shot here.

Instead, this is where the movie makers and prop creators came looking for inspiration. Filled with artefacts and relics that are mysterious and beautiful, there was a lot here that the filmmakers brought to the big screen.

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In particular, if you recall the Knight Bus scene in Prisoner of Azkaban, you may remember the shrunken head that hung inside the bus, making jokes and assisting the driver.

His name was Dre Head, and he was directly modelled off some of the shrunken heads on display in the museum.

The same is true with the heads hanging outside of the Three Broomsticks who stopped Harry and Hermione entering the pub in the same film.


STOP 7

University Parks - Quidditch Club

If you’d like to finish your tour with a stroll through a beautiful park, consider heading to University Parks. Originally a grassland where, in the 17th century, King Charles II used to walk his dogs, the space here was purchased by the University of Oxford and was laid out in the 1860’s.

The intention here was that part of the parks should be set aside for sports and recreational purposes. When visiting the park you may see students here playing cricket, rugby, croquet, hockey, lacrosse, tennis and even quidditch!

That’s right, the Universities of Oxford have a Quidditch Club, abbreviated OUQC. The club is made up of students from the University of Oxford as well as from Oxford Brookes University.

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There are two teams that play for Oxford, the Radcliffe Chimeras (not necessarily named after Daniel but rather the academic and politician who graduated from Oxford in the 17th century and lends his name to the famous Radcliffe Camera) and the Quidlings.

Both teams are official members of Quidditch UK, the governing body of quidditch in the United Kingdom, which is affiliated with the International Quidditch Association.

Originally founded at Middlebury College of Vermont in 2005, today the International Quidditch Association oversees the playing of quidditch in over two dozen countries on six continents.

As in the books, quidditch is a co-ed sport with teams of seven students, (although, unlike the books the teams themselves are larger with just seven students playing per game), and players must have a broomstick between their legs at all times.

The positions are the same as well - beaters, keepers, chasers and seekers, and they play with the same equipment: quaffles, bludgers and, yes, even a golden snitch.

The snitch, in this instance, is a small ball attached to the waistband of a snitch runner - a neutral player and referee dressed in yellow.

Since 2012, the University Parks have been home to the OUQC and players train and play here throughout the year so make sure you keep an eye out for any flying bludgers…


Conclusion

If you’ve enjoyed your GPS-Enabled Harry Potter Walking Tour with us and are considering visiting London, head over to our website at www.freetoursbyfoot.com.

There you will find more Harry Potter content including our fabulous walking tours, self guided walks and information on filming location. You’ll also find self-guided tours of Royal London, the Beatles in London, the East End, Jack the Ripper and more.

You will also find information on other audio-tours that we offer and also our full tour schedule. Free Tours By Food offers pay-what-you-like walking tours on a daily basis and we’d love to have you join us - simply book online.

Thank you for touring with Free Tours By Foot today and we hope you’ve enjoyed every step of your journey.

 


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About The Author

Margaret

An American simply by accident of birth, Margaret moved to London over 16 years ago and hasn’t looked back since! With a keen interest in History – and a BA degree to match – Margaret prides herself on her knowledge of the amazing city she calls home and she's been guiding here now for nearly a decade. Social history is her real expertise, with sound understanding of the day-to-day lives of Londoners over the past centuries.
Updated: October 12th, 2021
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