Where are the Harry Potter Filming Locations in Oxford?
Oxford is world-renowned for its impressive architecture and centuries-old university, but did you know it also served as the setting for many Harry Potter scenes throughout the movie franchise? The various historic buildings throughout the city proved excellent locations to help bring the iconic story of the young wizard to life.
Harry Potter fans, or ‘Potterheads’ as they are otherwise known, can walk in the footsteps of Harry, Ron and Hermione as they explore the sweeping staircases and stunning hallways of some of Oxford’s most famous buildings. It can sometimes feel like you could even bump into a Hogwarts student as you walk down the city streets!
Every year, Oxford receives flocks of tourists who want to experience a little bit of magic for themselves. There are plenty of tours and photo opportunities throughout the city to provide you with the perfect Harry Potter-related day. You’ll be sure to notice lots of small details around Oxford that inspired certain scenes throughout the movies.
In this guide, we’ll help you find some of the most famous filming locations in Oxford, as well as in the surrounding area. Whether you’re looking to take a guided tour or want to set off and explore the mysterious hallways and rooms yourself, there’s plenty to see in this beautiful city.
Where are the Harry Potter filming locations in Oxford?
There are several locations in Oxford that were used to film scenes from Harry Potter, as well as providing a source of inspiration for set design in the Warner Bros. studios. For example, the Bodley staircase in Christ Church College was used in various different scenes throughout the films, such as the scene when Harry, Ron and Hermione enter Hogwarts for the first time.
Other filming locations include the Bodleian Library, which is the second-largest library in Britain. It provided the setting for Hogwarts’ own school library, as well as the Hogwarts Infirmary, where Harry and other characters recovered from their injuries and illnesses throughout the series.
Continue reading to find out where else you can find the real-life inspiration and settings for memorable scenes in the Harry Potter film franchise.
Which Oxford colleges featured in the Harry Potter films?
There were two main Oxford colleges that featured as Harry Potter locations – New College and Christ Church College. Both buildings are hundreds of years old, as New College was founded in 1379 and Christ Church College was founded in 1546.
New College is an impressive medieval building, with long corridors, great arched windows and cloisters that all helped to successfully create the illusion of the magical boarding school in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. One such scene involves Harry pushing his way through a sea of students in the college courtyard to try and speak to Cedric Diggory, whilst the people around him wear ‘Potter Stinks’ badges.
Another scene that was filmed in the New College courtyard features a shot of the big oak tree and the college cloisters in the background. This was where Mad-Eye Moody transfigures an unsuspecting Draco Malfoy into a ferret. Throughout the scene, viewers are able to see the famous arched windows and stone pillars of the New College.
It costs £8.00 for adults to look around New College and £7.00 for under 16s and students. However, the college cannot accommodate tour groups larger than 20 people at once. The college offers tours throughout the year, although the hours are reduced between October and Easter.
Perhaps the most recognisable college that features in the film franchise is that of Christ Church College. A number of different spots around the college are featured in a number of scenes throughout the film series. This includes the statues that Professor McGonagall brings to life in the battle of Hogwarts during Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II. They appeared very similar to the grotesques that line the walls in Christ Church’s grounds.
Few staircases are as memorable as the Bodley staircase in Christ Church College, which features in numerous scenes and is one of the most famous Oxford Harry Potter locations. It is at this spot that the wizarding trio meets Professor McGonagall for the first time in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, as well as one of the closing scenes of the same film after they have defeated Professor Quirrel and Voldemort.
A perceptive Harry Potter fan may also recognise these stairs from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when Harry and Ron are caught by the caretaker Filch after they crash the flying car.
The Christ Church cloisters appear prominently in the first film, during an emotional scene when Hermione shows Harry Quidditch trophies with his father’s name on them, to prove that Harry was born to be a Seeker. As with New College, it is possible to walk around Christ Church College for a small fee, although the tickets must be booked online in advance.
How did Oxford influence the set design of the Harry Potter films?
Oxford inspired the set design of the earlier Harry Potter films due to the impressive gothic architecture that already seemed like it belonged in a magical version of our world.
For example, not only did Christ Church College itself appear in a great many scenes, but the Christ Church dining hall was also the base inspiration for an important room in Hogwarts. The long rows of tables, high ceilings and imposing framed portraits on the walls are instantly familiar as the Hogwarts dining hall.
However, despite what some fans may think, you won’t be able to walk down the actual Hogwarts Dining Hall in Oxford. Photographs of the Christ Church Great Hall were used to create a fictional version on the set of Warner Bros. studios, so although it is equally as majestic as Hogwarts, there are some differences in the layout and decorations.
It has all come full circle because not only did Oxford inspire the sets for the films, but Harry Potter books and films also influenced Oxford’s sports scene! The Radcliffe Chimeras (Oxford Universities Quidditch Club) was one of the first ‘real-life’ Quidditch teams to be formed in the world. They placed first in Development Cup in the 2019/2020 Quidditch season.
Where in Oxfordshire was Harry Potter filmed?
Along with the Oxford University colleges, another Harry Potter filming location within the city is the Bodleian Library. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry ventures to the restricted section within Hogwarts library, using his newly acquired invisibility cloak. However, rather than using a set for the Hogwarts library, filmmakers instead used Duke Humfrey’s Library within the Bodleian. Visitors can only visit the library through a guided tour for a small fee.
Another location used in the Bodleian Library was the Divinity School, which is a medieval building from the 1400s. It is the oldest surviving building that was purpose-built for the university and was used in a number of films, as the Hogwarts infirmary, including Harry’s trips to recover from injuries resulting from Quidditch games.
The Divinity School also doubled up as a classroom in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when Professor McGonagall is teaching Harry and his classmates how to dance in preparation for the Triwizard Tournament celebrations.
Although not in Oxford itself, another of the Harry Potter locations in Oxfordshire is within the grounds of Blenheim Palace, in nearby Woodstock. A 300-year-old Cedar of Lebanon tree was used in a flashback scene in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In the scene, we see a young Severus Snape sitting against the tree before the Marauders, including Harry’s father, James, begin to taunt him and use a spell to dangle him upside down.
Visitors can access the grounds of Blenheim Palace for free and see the great tree overlooking the nearby lake. However, fans shouldn’t confuse the tree at Blenheim with another tree used in the films – the Whomping Willow.
The Whomping Willow tree, which was used to cover up a secret passage from the Shrieking Shack to the grounds of Hogwarts, was filmed using instead an ancient Yew Tree located on the Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire. Unfortunately, the tree has become damaged since its days on the Harry Potters set. To prevent the Blenheim Palace tree from getting damaged too, the estate has erected a fence around the perimeter to protect it from tourists.
How long does an Oxford Harry Potter tour in Oxford take?
Fans can go on many different Harry Potter Oxford tours around the city to explore the different filming locations that are featured throughout the movie franchise. You can book a Harry Potter tour with professional tour guides who can give you facts and stories about where Harry Potter was filmed in Oxford, as well as other iconic landmarks around the city.
As the main filming locations in Oxford are only located in a few buildings, namely New College, Christ Church College and the Bodleian Library, you can complete a Harry Potter Oxford tour in a couple of hours. However, there’s plenty of other interesting historical sites to see within the buildings, so you may find yourself lingering to admire the carved stone structures and ornate statues that line the long corridors.
The distances between the locations only take about 10 minutes or so, which gives you a chance to enjoy the other sights of the city of dreaming spires along the way.
Are there Harry Potter shops in Oxford?
Oxford is rightly proud of its connection to the beloved wizarding franchise and is therefore full of gift shops that are full of Harry Potter merchandise. From wands to figurines and clothing in the colours of the four Hogwarts houses, there is plenty of choice of memorabilia for any fan.
Broad Street is the most populated street in Oxford for Harry Potter-related shops. It has even been nicknamed ‘Diagon Alley’ by regular fans who visit! There are plenty of window displays that are full to the brim of scarves, toys and wands that hint at the types of gifts that can be found within. Christ Church itself also features a souvenir shop where you can buy products related to the film, as well as university merchandise.
Some of the other souvenir shops in Oxford also sell Harry Potter products, along with other merchandise from the city, including various university themed products.
There are several Harry Potter Oxford locations that you can visit throughout the city. Whether you want to walk down the same staircases that Harry did or visit the infirmary where Ron recovered from a broken leg, you’ll feel like you’ve just stepped onto the set or between the pages of J.K. Rowling’s novels.
Christ Church College served as filming locations for various aspects of the films, including Bodley Staircase and the college cloisters, which appeared in the first two Harry Potter films. Another important connection that Christ Church College has to the Harry Potter films is the dining hall. The filmmakers used photos and case studies of the room to replicate and adapt the design to make their own Hogwarts dining hall in the Warner Bros. studios.
Duke Humfrey’s library within the Bodleian Library also acted as a set for Hogwart’s own school library, when Harry visited the restricted section in the first film. Students at the University of Oxford are able to use the historic library to study and visitors can also tour around the building for a small fee.
Further afield, you can also travel to the grounds of Blenheim Palace to see the ancient tree that featured in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. No Harry Potter tour would be complete without a trip to one of the dedicated Harry Potter shops in Oxford. You can stock up on your magical merchandise to remember your trip by.