Harry Potter Filming Locations in Oxford

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Date of Publication: 20 April 2019

For decades, the city of Oxford has been the backdrop of some pretty epic film and TV scenes. And as a place that’s earned worldwide recognition for its statement architecture and leading UK education, it’s no surprise that one of the largest ever blockbuster franchises, Harry Potter, has used its grandeur and respected reputation as its backdrop for its films. 

Home to some of the most pertinent Potter scenes, the city of Oxford is a great place to visit for die-hard ‘Potterheads’ and admirers of the films. From the sweeping staircases of Bodley Tower staircase to the instantly recognisable grand Dining Hall of Christ Church, the magic of the movies can be felt all around this historic city – so it’s no wonder that thousands of tourists flock to its streets each year, all eager to soak up some of its mystique. 

All conveniently located in the main city centre, tourists can take part in local Potter tours, stroll around the open city themselves, or even have the opportunity to eat, sleep and dine in some of the actual colleges that were used for filming when they join us for one of our summer courses in Oxford.

Read through our guide to the Oxford Harry Potter filming locations below to discover the seven iconic buildings and filming locations used in the city – and get planning your trip to see them for yourself. 

 

Was Harry Potter filmed in Oxford?

In short, yes! The historic city of Oxford was the inspiration for much of the Harry Potter film franchise, along with other landmark cities and sites in the UK, including London and nearby historic site, Blenheim Palace. 

At a glance, Harry Potter was filmed in the following locations in the city of Oxford. 

  • Bodleian Library: Duke Humfrey’s Library 
  • Bodleian Library: The Divinity School 
  • New College: Cloisters
  • New College: Courtyard
  • Christ Church: Bodley Tower Staircase 
  • Christ Church: Cloisters
  • Christ Church: Dining Hall

Let’s learn about each of these locations  and their starring roles in more detail below.

 

Where was Harry Potter filmed in Oxford?

The city of Oxford and its historic university buildings were used to film some of the most iconic and mesmerising scenes from Harry Potter, as well as serving as a source of inspiration for the filmmakers to create larger-scale sets at their Warner Bros. Studios here in the UK. 

Keep reading to learn more about the Oxford colleges that appeared in the Harry Potter film series, as well as how you can visit them for yourself!

 

Bodleian Library: Duke Humfrey’s Library

duke-humfreys-library

Photo credit: Wikipedia

 

Hidden away in the world-famous Bodleian Library, the Duke Humfrey’s Library reading room revels in a magical atmosphere. With parts of the room dating back to 1487, it is filled from floor to ceiling with books, ancient manuscripts and dark wooden beams, offering a wealth of history. Despite being the oldest reading room in the building, you may be surprised to find that this iconic room is still being used today by current students at the University of Oxford.

Designed with imposing high walls and an intricately painted ceiling, even the smallest of Harry Potter fans will find it difficult not to be captivated by its striking beauty. Acting as the main Hogwarts Library in the film series, it is most memorable for the scene in The Philosopher’s Stone, when Harry uses his Cloak of Invisibility to sneak into the restricted section of the library.

Visiting Duke Humfrey’s Library: Sadly, with the Duke Humfrey’s Library still used today by students at the university, access to the building can only be done via a guided tour. Click here to visit the library’s website and find out more about tours.

 

Bodleian Library: The Divinity School

divinity-school-oxford

Photo credit: Pinterest

 

A Medieval marvel, the Divinity School is instantly recognisable thanks to its intricate ceiling patterns and tall, airy windows. Attached to the Bodleian Library, it sits opposite the Sheldonian Theatre, which is used today by students for matriculation (when they are admitted to the University of Oxford) and graduation (when they complete their studies). 

As a popular Oxford Harry Potter location, the room features in the first four Harry Potter films, where it served as the location for the Hogwarts Hospital Wing. Fans of the earlier films will recognise it as being where Harry first wakes up at the end of The Philosopher’s Stone, after having faced a battle with Voldemort – the first of many!

Other scenes you may remember it for include; The Prisoner of Azkaban – where Harry and Hermione use the time turner to save Sirius Black and Buckbeak; and, in The Goblet of Fire – where Professor McGonagall tries to teach Ron how to dance ahead of the festive Yule Ball.

Visiting Divinity School: As part of the collection of buildings and rooms owned by the Bodleian Library, you can access the building either by purchasing a ticket for £2.50, or by attending a guided tour of the site. More information can be found here.

 

New College Cloisters

new-college-cloisters

Photo credit: Experience Oxfordshire

 

Once you’ve finished exploring the historic rooms of the Bodleian Library, take a short stroll over to New College (which, despite the name, actually dates back to the 14th Century), where you can visit two filming locations in Oxford used for Harry Potter. 

The first of these is the Cloisters, located outside the college’s historic teaching spaces, just off the Front Quadrangle. These tunnelled walkways are used multiple times in The Goblet of Fire, where they serve as the Hogwarts hallways – the bustling walkways to class where many conversations take place.

Most notably, film fans will remember New College Cloisters as being used for the scene where Harry pushes through a crowd of his fellow students as they ridicule him with ‘Potter Stinks’ badges after he had been selected to take part in the Triwizard Tournament.

 

New College: Courtyard

new-college-courtyard-oak-tree

Photo credit: Pinterest

 

In addition to the stone tunnels of Cloisters, the New College Courtyard is another striking outdoor location that features in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. 

Firstly, it can be spotted in the scene in which Harry tips Cedric off about the dragons which they will be battling in the first of the trials in the Triwizard Tournament.

Located just behind the iconic Bridge of Sighs, the ancient (almost 200-year-old) oak tree which occupies one side of the grass also features in the film, almost immediately after the above scene. In this scene, we see (one of the many) times where Malfoy taunts Harry. However, this one is far more memorable, as it is here where Mad-Eye Moody appears and (luckily for Harry) transforms Malfoy into a ferret.

Visiting New College: Fans of the film will be pleased to know that access to New College and its two Harry Potter filming locations is granted for a small access fee. Find out more here.

 

Christ Church: Dining Hall

The final university building which is so commonly associated with the Harry Potter films is Christ Church College. With three sites featuring in the film franchise, visitors will be pleased to know that just a single entrance fee to the College covers your visit to see all of them.

First on the list of Harry Potter filming locations in Christ Church College to visit – and, quite possibly, the most famous location of all – is the Dining Hall, which mirrors the Great Hall used in Hogwarts.

It was lit by thousands and thousands of candles that were floating in midair over four long tables, where the rest of the students were sitting. These tables were laid with glittering golden plates and goblets. At the top of the hall was another long table where the teachers were sitting… The hundreds of faces staring at them looked like pale lanterns in the flickering candlelight… Harry looked upward and saw a velvety black ceiling dotted with stars… It was hard to believe there was a ceiling there at all, and that the Great Hall didn’t simply open on to heaven.

Contrary to popular belief, no filming actually took place in the famous Christ Church Dining Hall. However, it did serve as an immense inspiration for Hogwarts’ very own Great Hall.

Due to its smaller-than-anticipated size, the Dining Hall was actually recreated on set in the Warner Bros. studio, allowing filmmakers to add size, depth, and grandeur to this already magical room in the college. A truly magnificent design, it is worth visiting both the Christ Church Dining Hall and the studios to compare.

Though today’s students are not treated to floating candles and ghostly presences, they can take pleasure in the splendour of its Renaissance architecture. With dark wooden panelling surrounding the room, the walls are adorned with a number of portraits, each celebrating famous members of the college from Queen Elizabeth to W. H. Auden. 

Anyone who walks into this room today will sense the same magical feelings of excitement, just like the First Years in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone did upon walking in to dine on their arrival at Hogwarts. Definitely not one to miss on your tour!

 

Christ Church: Bodley Tower Staircase

 

 

There were a hundred and forty-two staircases at Hogwarts: wide, sweeping ones; narrow, rickety ones; some that led somewhere different on a Friday; some with a vanishing step halfway up that you had to remember to jump.

Probably one of the other most famous filming locations in the franchise, the grand stone staircase which is located inside Bodley Tower at Christ Church College is a prominent feature in the first two Harry Potter films.

Fans will recall several memorable scenes which have been filmed here; from Harry’s first day at Hogwarts; to a flashback sequence between Tom Riddle and Dumbledore; to the scene near the end of the first movie where Harry is reunited with Ron and Hermione after being released from Hogwarts Infirmary, it certainly holds a special place in many Potterheads hearts.

Today, the staircase is used by students at the university as a way of gaining access to Christ Church Dining Hall, where they can enjoy the same magical walk as the Hogwarts students. Whenever students join us for our summer courses in this historic college, this staircase is one of the most hotly-requested sites to visit. Nothing quite beats walking to formal up these iconic stone steps.

 

Christ Church: Cloisters

christ-church-cloisters-oxford

 

Finally on our list of Oxford Harry Potter filming locations, and staying in the same college, Christ Church Cloisters, also had a starring role in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, where they acted as another location for Hogwarts’ Hallways.

Although slightly more tucked away from the other filming sites in Christ Church College, Cloisters promises just as much magic as the other destinations on our list.

A notable scene that fans may recall is one from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, when Harry has just been made seeker for the Gryffindor quidditch team. Here, Hermione tells him that being a seeker is “in his blood,” where she then proceeds to show him a display case in the hallways which contains a quidditch trophy with his father’s name (James Potter) on it – from when he was a student at Hogwarts.

Visiting Christ Church College: You can visit the three iconic filming sites at Christ Church by purchasing a ticket to the College. Booking information and prices can be found on the College’s website.

 

Harry Potter tours in Oxford

Self-guided tour

Using the information provided in this article, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to navigate around Oxford and visit the Harry Potter filming locations yourself. 

Fortunately, Oxford is one of the smaller cities in the UK, meaning you can access all the spots featured on our list by foot, with each site being located no further than a fifteen minute walk from one another. 

As long as you have a map, pre-booked your tickets to the sites, and are ready for a fun few hours of exploration, there’s no reason as to why you shouldn’t be able to enjoy a self-guided tour around the city. 

Professional tours

If you don’t fancy doing a self-guided tour around the city of Oxford, then there are plenty of different Oxford Harry Potter tours available to book onto. These tours will be led by an experienced tour guide who will take you around the sites, arrange your entrance tickets to each college, and, most importantly, give you insightful information and fun facts about the Harry Potter filming locations in Oxford, as well as other iconic buildings in the city. 

Thanks to the city being quite small and compact, compared to other cities in the UK, the tour will take no longer than a couple of hours. All colleges are located just a short distance away from each other, a walk which will also take you past some of the city’s most recognisable landmarks and buildings. Be sure to ask your guide for more information about these!

 

Harry Potter shops in Oxford

Finally, no tour around the Harry Potter filming locations in Oxford would be complete without a trip to one of the dedicated shops in the city centre to pick up a keepsake. 

The centrally-located Cornmarket Street and Broad Street both house gift shops that are full of wands, clothing, jelly beans and more – everything you could ever need to feel fully immersed in the magical world of Hogwarts! 

Make sure you include a visit to one of the shops as one of the must-dos for your visit to Oxford. In fact, when students join us for their summer courses, two of the questions we so often hear on their first day are: (1) when can we go? (2) how do we make more room in our suitcase for a Hogwarts house hoody?

 

Summary

As a city known for its impressive architecture, history, and world-leading education, it’s only fitting that Oxford featured as a source of inspiration and backdrop for some of the most notable scenes in Harry Potter

Bodleian Library, New College and Christ Church College are the three university sites featured in the films, mainly in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, as well as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Not to be missed on a trip to Oxford, all sites are conveniently located close to one another and easily accessible. 

Using the sites mentioned in the article above, eager Potterheads can embark on their own self-guided adventure around the city themselves to see the locations for themselves, or enjoy one of the many professional tours in the city for easy navigation and to learn local insights about the city’s impressive history. Just don’t forget your camera!

 

Learn more about the historic city of Oxford

Enjoyed learning about the buildings and sites in Oxford that played a starring role in the Harry Potter franchise? Keep expanding your knowledge of our beloved city with even more articles about the History of Oxford

Alternatively, if you’re between the ages of 13-24 and interested in exploring the actual city yourself, why not consider joining us for an academic summer course in Oxford?

Not only will you have the opportunity to explore these incredible sites and buildings for yourself, but, most importantly, you’ll get to experience an unforgettable learning experience here in the UK. 

With over 40 academic courses to choose from, expert tutorial teaching from top academics, and the chance to learn in the UK’s leading university – there’s so much to gain from a summer course with us. 

Contact us for more information, or browse the subjects we have available for next summer.

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