Date of Publication: 20 April 2019
Oxford University is home to some of the most important Harry Potter filming locations. Discover these seven iconic buildings and learn about their starring roles...
- Duke Humfrey’s Library
- The Divinity School
- New College Cloisters
- New College Courtyard
- Bodley Tower Staircase
- Christ Church Cloisters
- Christ Church Dining Hall
Ever wondered where the Harry Potter films were shot? Whether you’re a die-hard Potterhead or just an admirer of the films, it’s impossible to ignore the beauty of some of the scene locations.
Home to some of the most pertinent Potter scenes, the city of Oxford is a great place to visit if you’re a fan of the franchise. All located in the main city centre, tourists can take part in local Potter tours, or even encounter these in their own colleges if they choose to participate in one of our Oxford Summer Courses.
Duke Humfrey’s Library
Hidden away in the Bodleian Library, the Duke Humfrey’s 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 Oxford university students.
Designed with imposing high walls and an intricately painted ceiling, even the smallest of Harry Potter fans will fail to ignore 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.
The Divinity School
A Medieval marvel, the Divinity School is known for 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 when they matriculate and graduate.
Used in the filming of the first four Harry Potter films, 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 for the first time.
Other scenes you may remember it for include; The Prisoner of Azkaban – where Harry and Herminoe 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.
New College Cloisters
Outside of the ancient buildings that encapsulate Hogwarts, the New College Cloisters are used multiple times in The Goblet of Fire, where they serve as the Hogwarts hallways.
Located just off the Front Quadrangle inside New College, film fans may also 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
Also a filming location for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the New College Courtyard is the location with 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 immediately after the above scene, as it just one of the places where Malfoy taunts Harry. You may remember this scene in particular, as it is here where Mad-Eye Moody appears and (luckily for Harry) transforms Malfoy into a ferret.
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 most famous filming locations, the grand stone staircase which is located inside Bodley Tower at Christ Church College is a prominent feature in the first two 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 Potterhead’s hearts.
Christ Church Cloisters
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 Hogwarts Hallways.
A notable scene that fans may recall is that of 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 on it.
Christ Church Dining Hall
Contrary to belief, no filming actually took place in the infamous Christ Church Dining Hall. However, it did serve as an immense inspiration for Hogwart’s very own Great Hall.
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.
Founded in the time of King Henry VII and being home to thirteen British Prime Ministers, it is no surprise that filmmakers decide to replicate this historical wonder at their own Warner Bros. film studios. A truly magnificent design, it is worth visiting both the Christ Church Dining Hall and the studios to compare.
If you want to know what it’s like to view the full Harry Potter set, it’s well worth reading our blog on visiting Warner Bros. Studio to get a taster of what to expect.
And if you’re heading into Oxford to explore these fantastic locations, be sure to tag #oxfordsummercourses in your posts and share the magic.