Calling All Potterheads: Harry Potter Sites in Oxford

I love Harry Potter! As all of my friends and family know, I am a huge Potterhead (what big Harry Potter fans are known as) and a proud Hufflepuff. Seeing as I have spent the last two and a half months in England, I decided to take advantage of the Harry Potter ‘heritage’ as this is where the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studios are and where JK Rowling got a lot of inspiration for the books. In one of the last blog posts (Fun things to do in Oxford), I mentioned that walking tours are a great idea to see the sites, including Harry Potter sites, so that is what two of my friends and I did the other day. We walked through the city and got to see some of the film locations, as well as see and learn where JK Rowling got some of her inspiration from. I know that this isn’t like my usual blog posts, but I still hope that for those of you who are Harry Potter fans you enjoy seeing and reading all these sites. And, for those of you who are not necessarily fans, that you still enjoy the blog and maybe use it as inspiration to visit Oxford and explore more of this incredible city. Enjoy!

Photo by Blondey on a Mission
New college quad. Photo by Lobke and Blondey on a Mission
Photo by Carolina

Competitive colleges

Unlike in Hogwarts, where there are only four houses, there are 38 different colleges in Oxford. Much like in Hogwarts, each college becomes a family for their students and students become very competitive to ensure that they not only outperform the other colleges but also to bring pride to their own college. JK Rowling was said to get the inspiration for the houses and their competitive nature from the different Oxford colleges, particularly the rivalry between Balliol college and Trinity college. Balliol became known for its political activism in the 20th century, while Trinity was more about traditional conservatism and social exclusivity – doesn’t this sound a lot like the rivalry between Gryffindor and Slytherin? I can definitely see how there was lots of inspiration for the house competitiveness in the Oxford colleges.

Balliol college Oxford. Photo by Blondey on a Mission
Trinity College, Oxford. Photo by Blondey on a Mission
Related image
Photo by wizardsandwhatnots.com on google.com

Blackwell’s Bookstore

Blackwell’s is a small bookstore on Broad street in Oxford but don’t let its tiny storefront fool you. Blackwell’s becomes a beautiful labyrinth filled with more books than you can imagine, and the space just seems to get bigger and bigger the further into the shop you get. The store was even included in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the single largest room in the world selling books. Now the reason I have included this site in the list is that JK Rowling celebrated the publishing of the first two books (that being the Philosopher’s stone and the Chamber of Secrets) at this bookstore, among many others!  So somewhere in that maze of books, JK Rowling stood after publishing each of the first two books!

Blackwell’s bookstore, Oxford. Photo by Blondey on a Mission

Whomping willow inspiration?

I’ve been in England for almost three months, and one thing that I haven’t stopped noticing is how similar a particular tree looks to the Whomping Willow in Harry Potter. Apparently, a lot of real plants and places were used to inspire aspects of the books, but up until I saw these trees, I didn’t realise how true this was. Now I don’t know if JK Rowling actually used these trees as inspiration for the spectacularly temperamental tree, but take a look at the picture and I think you will struggle to see how there isn’t a similarity. Since I noticed it, I haven’t been able to walk past these trees without feeling a little wary, because you never know when they might take a swing at you.

Whomping willow trees. Photo by Blondey on a Mission
Whomping willows with hair. Photo by Blondey on a Mission

The Bodleian Library

The Bodleian Library is a famous library in Oxford, said to have more than 13 million printed copies inside of it with most of the books being stored in vast rows of shelves underground. Now, what is so fantastic about the Bodleian in terms of Harry Potter you may ask? Well, one room in the Bodleian (known as the Divinity School)  was used to film quite a few scenes in the films. This room was used as the infirmary and the place where McGonagall teaches the students how to dance before the Yule ball in the fourth film. It was absolutely breathtaking to stand in this beautiful hall, so if you aren’t convinced enough to go to Oxford, come so you can be overwhelmed by the beautiful, historic architecture that was used in the filming of Harry Potter.

The Bodleian Library (Divinity School). Photo by Blondey on a Mission

The Great Hall Inspiration

Now to be clear, the Great Hall in Harry Potter was created and exists entirely in the filming studios, but the inspiration for it came from Oxford as well. Unfortunately, the Great Hall scenes couldn’t be filmed in Oxford because the Oxford students use these dining halls that inspired the Hogwarts one daily for their own meals. The most famous source of inspiration for the Great Hall is from Christ Church, but as you can see from these pictures in New College, the inspiration came from the way the Oxford dining halls as a whole and I must say, I think it would be very cool to be able to eat all my meals in rooms like these. Don’t you think?

The Dining hall of New College. Photo by Mica and Blondey on a Mission

The Outside corridor

There are many times in the films where the Hogwarts students are walking around in these beautiful old outdoor passages, particularly in the Goblet of fire. Well, what if I told you that those corridors are real and these very corridors in New College were the film locations in, at the very least to my knowledge, the Goblet of Fire. They are so spectacular and majestic to walk through that I am not surprised they were used in the film rather than creating a similar version in the studio. And, from the slightly ominous looking statues and shadows in these corridors, I was more than expecting Snape to appear from around the corner and accuse me of being “………….. (extremely long pause) … Up to something.”

The outdoor corridor. Photo by Mica
The outdoor corridor. Photo by Blondey on a Mission

Draco’s tree

Now, this was definitely the coolest stop of all in the tour and by far the best choice of location for it all to come to an end. Can anyone recall in the Goblet of Fire when Draco Malfoy and his posse are hanging in a tree, and Mad-eye Moody turns him into a ferret? Well – this is the real tree that Tom Felton jumped out of before getting turned into a lovely looking white ferret! It was beyond incredible to stand there and think of how the filming was taking place (apparently it was quite a challenging scene for Felton, and I can understand why because that jump is quite high). According to our guide, the students of New College were actually used as extras during that very scene so it must have been quite a proud moment for those lucky students who now have half a second of fame in one of the Harry Potter movies. It was a sight to behold and for a Potterhead like me, one of the best moments of my trip.

Draco Malfoy’s tree. Photo by Lobke and Blondey on a Mission

So there you have it – a taste of the incredible history of Oxford, some of the sources of inspiration for JK Rowling and some of the Harry Potter film sites. For the Harry Potter fans who’ve read this post and those who are not fans, I really hope that you enjoyed this post even though it was a bit different. Maybe it has inspired you to plan a trip to Oxford, whether it is for Harry Potter related reasons or not. For my questions today:

  • What was your favourite site that I mentioned in this post?
  • What is your favourite Harry Potter film/movie?

Please remember to like this post if you haven’t already and subscribe so that you don’t miss any future posts. Thank you so much to everyone who reads the blog – I always appreciate the support. You are all amazing! Enjoy the rest of your week!

Lots of Love

Blondey on a Mission xxx

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2 thoughts

  1. Hi Blondey,
    My favorite site is the Whomping Willows without “hair”
    Loved your blog and found it very humorous and also loved the photo’s although I really dislike the harry Potter novels and movies, maybe you can convince me to read one o the books??? don’t hold your breath.(actually to be honest I have never even tried to read a book or see a movie???)

    Liked by 1 person

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