Harry Potter - and the Magic of Britain
- Visit the Film Locations
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Much of the action in the film takes place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In reality this was mostly Gloucester Cathedral, or rather the cloisters of the cathedral: the cameras rolled only in this part of the 11th century building, its corridors representing the labyrinthine walkways of Hogwarts. Gloucester's Dean, the Very Reverend Nicholas Bury, said: "The cathedral is a particularly atmospheric place, and the cloisters must be among the most beautiful architectural gems in Europe."
The film-makers went to Yorkshire to find the location for Hogsmeade station. They chose the station in the moorland village of Goathland on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, one of Britain's many lovingly-preserved steam lines, which has hardly changed since opening in 1865.
There are other railway links to visit. In the story, the Hogwarts Express train taking Harry and his friends to school, leaves from platform 9¾ at King's Cross Station in London. Platforms 4 and 5 at King's Cross station but also the Waterloo and City line (an underground railway) were employed as backdrops to Chris Columbus's film.
The university city of Oxford also plays a key role. Its Bodleian Library in real-life, the main research centre for students and scholars, doubles as Hogwarts Library, while scenes were also filmed at Christ Church College. A different kind of atmosphere was conjured when the cameras moved back to London, to film characters visiting the reptile house in London Zoo, set on the edge of Regent's Park.
The film makers certainly left no stone unturned in their search for suitable locations. For scenes involving the Hogwarts' Quidditch match, they chose Alnwick Castle on the England/Scotland border. England's second largest inhabited castle boasted the unusual sight of around 30 children cloaked in wizard robes, learning to fly broomsticks in front of its medieval exterior.
These locations, all of which welcome visitors, are among those featured on a new, free British Tourist Authority map, which also lists some of the ways holiday-makers can tap into the country's rich mix of tales, myths and legends. For example, there are ghost walks after dark through atmospheric parts of Edinburgh, London, York and Bath. Entertaining guides explain the spooky tales and 'protect' walkers from unruly phantoms! England has its own witches' trail, too. The Pendle Witch Trail and Heritage Centre near Nelson, Lancashire, in the north-west, includes Lancaster Castle, where 'real' witches were imprisoned after being tried and sentenced to death in 1612. The trail takes in villages around Pendle Hill, where mysterious events took place.
Among the legendary sites to visit are Glastonbury and Tintagel Castle in England's West Country, linked with tales of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere. Wales also claims strong connections with Arthur and, at Corris in mid Wales, the inquisitive can sail underground into King Arthur's Labyrinth and see the legends brought to life using various special effects.
Then there are tales of magical folk, giants and water-beasts; and centres with owls and other birds of prey.
The British Tourist Authority has brought many of these film locations and places to visit together in an intriguing new map-folder and website entitled "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" - Discovering the Magic of Britain".
The British Tourist Authority's map-folder is available free from its overseas offices, or look on the companion Website - www.visitbritain.com/moviemap.
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