Was Harry Potter Filmed in Oxford?
Many people wonder if the Harry Potter films were actually filmed in Oxford. If that’s you, you are not wrong! In fact, a lot of Harry Potter scenes were filmed in Oxford University spaces. However, many others, while not directly done there, were inspired by the beautiful colleges, their halls, and their libraries. The great news is: If you’re in Oxford, you can visit all of these Harry Potter filmings locations and inspirations! Below you will be able to find all the exact places that were used in Harry Potter scenes, what they were used for, and when it’s best to visit them.
Did Oxford Inspire Harry Potter?
Gothic vaulted ceilings and staircases, old libraries with chained books, and wonderful great halls. These places are closely linked to Harry Potter and the aesthetics of Hogwarts. And many of them were filmed here in Oxford! So, the answer to this question is: Yes, Oxford definitely served as an inspiration for the Harry Potter films. The city has been considered a perfect location for filming, appearing in over two hundred movies and TV series – so this is not exactly a surprise.
Can you Visit the Harry Potter Filming Locations?
The short answer is: YES. Most of them, at least. The colleges of Oxford University and the streets of Oxford city that inspired the books and movies are all open to the public all year round. You don’t even need to book your visit; you can just drop by, pay a small entrance fee, and be transported right to Hogwarts.
So, let’s go through each of these filming locations, what they were used for in the movies, and the best times to visit them.
You can use this map to find your way:
1. The Staircase and Great Dining Hall
Tere are two Oxford Harry Potter filming locations that are emblematic of the movies. These are the Christ Church staircase and the Great Dining Hall – both of which you can see when you visit Christ Church college. If you are only in Oxford for a couple of hours, this is the place to see if you want to understand why so many Harry Potter scenes were filmed in Oxford.
Harry Potter Oxford Filming Location I: Christ Church's Staircase
The best place to start your Harry Potter filming locations tour is probably Christ Church College. This college provided the location for many essential scenes of the Harry Potter movies, and it’s also one of Oxford University’s oldest establishments. It was founded in 1546! Today, it’s also the biggest college; it has about 600 students.
Harry Potter Film Scenes:
The Bodley staircase (you can see its iconic style in the photo on the left) is where Professor McGonagall first meets Harry, Ron, and Hermione. This staircase leads up to the Great Dining Hall and is an extremely important Harry Potter filming location because it’s where Harry first experiences the magic of Hogwarts. And, when you are there in person, you might feel it as well.
The films also return to this spot when Harry has defeated Quirrell (and Voldemort) and is about to leave Hogwarts to return home.
This staircase is incredibly beautiful. Don’t forget to look up, though. The vaulted ceiling is a marvel of architectural design. And the lamps are also quite a nice sight.
Harry Potter Oxford Filming Location II: Christ Church's Dining Hall
The staircase we just mentioned leads up to Christ Church‘s Great Dining Hall, which was the actual inspiration for the incredible Hogwarts Dining Hall.
As soon as you step into this hall, you are transported to Hogwarts Castle. This were wizarding students and teachers dined and congregated there — and it’s exactly how the College’s hall is used today. The hall has tall ceilings, long benches, and portraits lining the walls. There’s also an impressive fireplace. Although this location was not used for filming the Harry Potter movies, there isn’t a more atmospheric location for fans to visit.
So if you’re visiting Oxford, don’t forget to stop by Christ Church. The college is of interest to those who love the books and movies, and to anyone interested in history and architecture.
And these are not the only places used for the films. The hallways of the college were also used for the scene where Hermione shows Harry the Quidditch trophy his father won.
Where to see all these Oxford Harry Potter filming locations:
Christ Church College
Christ Church is college of the University of Oxford. It was founded in 1546 by King Henry VIII and is one of the larger colleges. What’s the History of Oxford’s
2. Hogwart's Library and the Restricted Section
The restricted section of the Hogwarts Library contains powerful dark magic and is only available to older students taking up Defence Against the Dark Arts.
In the Harry Potter Philosopher’s Stone movie, however, Harry walks through this area protected by his invisibility cloak.
This scene was filmed in the Duke Humfrey’s Library (or Old Library), which is part of the Bodleian Library. This part of the library is available through private tours but you can book them easily through their website. Bodleian Library cardholders can also use it – so if you’re studying or doing research in Oxford you can actually do so from the restricted section. Be aware, though: The books ARE indeed in chains there!
Where to see this filming location:
Old library (Duke Humfrey’s)
Humphrey of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Gloucester, founded the Duke Humfrey’s Library in 1447 after donating 281 books to the library after his death. It is the oldest reading room
3. The Infirmary
You might remember the fantastic gothic vaulted ceilings of Hogwart’s Infirmary (which is shown also in Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone).
This scene was filmed in the Divinity School, which is now part of the Bodleian Library. The Divinity School doesn’t only appear in the movies as the Infirmary, it’s also been used in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It’s actually the hall where students practice their Triwizard Tournament dances!
You can visit Divinity School and recreate Ron’s face when McGonagall instructs him how to dance. The fee for entering the school is jus £2 – and you can visit all year round.
Where to see this filming location:
The Bodleian Library is one of Oxford’s most famous landmarks. Among the oldest in Europe, it’s easy to visit and incredible to see. Anyone visiting Oxford should make a stop
4. The Courtyard and the Giant Oak Tree
Remember the scene where Mad-Eye Moody turns Malfoy into a cute white ferret, something McGonagall completely disapproved of (but was probably slightly amused to see)? Malfoy is sitting on a gigantic oak tree.
This famous tree can be found in the New College courtyard quadrangle (don’t be tricked by the name, this college was actually founded in the 14th century!). The college’s cloisters, with arched stone tunnels and impressive architecture, were used for the movies.
Many other scenes were filmed here too, including the one where Harry pushes through students wearing the “Potter stinks” badges to speak to Cedric.
Where to see this filming location:
Founded by William of Wykeham in 1379, New College is one of the constituent colleges that make up Oxford University in the United Kingdom. The college’s full name is The
Are There Any Other Harry Potter Filming Locations?
Although quite iconic, these are the only filming locations in Oxford. However, the similarities between the city and its colleges and the fantastic world of Hogwarts don’t end up there. For example, you can explore the streets that will remind you of Diagon Alley – a street where you can even buy a wand! The best way to feel connected to this the magic world is to walk the streets and explore on your own. Oxford contains all sorts of secrets, all there for finding!
Oh, and don’t forget to visit the Shop of Secrets! Which has one of the largest Harry Potter merch collections around.
The Shop of Secrets
The Shop of Secrets is Oxford’s chamber of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts official collectables and merch. A shopping must-to in the city, the Shop of Secrets is a family-run
Books to Help You Explore Harry Potter Filming Locations
If you want to learn more about these filming locations and why the Harry Potter films team chose them, you can get a handy guide. These all include detailed descriptions, photos, and maps to help you locate them if you visit Oxford.