Harry Potter in the UK
While you might be the one person in this galaxy unfamiliar with Harry Potter, chances are you and your kids will recognize the name.
If you've also enjoyed the Harry Potter movie, you might want to visit some of the real places in the UK where parts of the movie were filmed.
The British Tourism Agency has put together some information, and we'll add in some comments and links below, as if by, well, magic!
We'll start at the start, on Platform 9 and 3/4, in Kings Cross Station in Central London. This is a huge station, and if you're bound for Scotland (where J.K. Rowland is from), you'll likely board your train here. The station has its own web site, though there is no real Platform 9 and 3/4, but you can see Platform 9a and 9b and pretend. The station is handy for other London sites though is not in the nicest neighborhood after dark.
You'll not be able to travel by steam train, and Hagrid won't be waiting for ‘yer, but Goathland Station in North Yorkshire is the destination for all First Year wanna-be's. They have their own website as well, with some photos and a list of other TV shows and movies filmed locally (TV cop show fans from the UK will recognize locations from “Heartbeat”.
What passes for Hogwarts in the film is actually a collection of locations throughout the UK, as well as regular movie sets. Here are some links to places used as locations for the film:
- Alnwick Castle:, Many other films used this location, including Kevin Costner's otherwise unexciting Robin Hood movie.
- Gloucester Cathedral. The site also includes a very rational statement about how stories about magic are not automatically in conflict with religious faith. The Cathedral is still very much a place of worship, and so you should keep in mind the schedule for services, so that you either arrive to join the services if that is your tradition, or arrive at other times if you just plan to visit the location on its own.
- Christ Church, Oxford. Again, this very much a place of worship, so plan your visit accordingly. The Church welcomes visitors to its services, as well as those interested more in its 800 years worth of history.
- Bodleian Library, Oxford. When it is not filling in as a film location, the Bodleian Library is the main research library of the University of Oxford. Visitors may not always be able to access the library, and many areas require special permission and prior application in order to keep the library primarily a place for serious study and research.
By the way, the historic town and university of Oxford is an easy train ride from London, and has enough (non-Harry Potter) things to see and do to make up at least a whole day of interesting traveling. Visitors are welcome at most of the colleges, though the cobble stone streets, narrow stairs and twisty alleyways may slow down those pushing strollers. Older kids will be amazed, however, certain that they have slipped back in time.
Follow this link for visitor's information. Their web site has details on getting to Oxford by train, as well as quite nice maps of the city.