|The Warner Bros. Studio in Leavesden|
|Harry Potter's First Bedroom, The Cupboard Under the Stairs|
We booked a group tour through International Friends, the same company that took us to Highclere Castle and Downton Abbey filming locations. (You can read about this tour in the post A Very Downton Day.) The itinerary allowed four hours to tour the studio exhibits, eat lunch in the Backlot Café (including a frothy mug of Butterbeer) and browse the Studio Shop. Here are some highlights of my visit, from entering the Great Hall of Hogwarts Castle, to window shopping in Diagon Alley and boarding the Hogwarts Express on Platform 9-3/4.
|Harry Potter's Bed in the Gryffindor Boys' Dormitory|
|The Gryffindor Common Room|
|The Lady & the Unicorn|
|The Griffin Stairwell|
|Door to the Chamber of Secrets|
|The Hogwarts Express|
|Carriage Interior from The Half-Blood Prince|
|Butterbeer - Like Ginger Ale and Butterscotch|
|Diagon Alley Storefronts|
|Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes|
|Window of Ollivanders Wand Shop|
|The Philosopher's Stone|
|Model of Hogwarts Castle|
While buying souvenirs for my kids in the Studio Shop, I was tempted to choose a magic wand for myself. I spent considerable time mulling over the 30 different designs but, as Mr. Ollivander once explained to Harry, “the wand chooses the wizard”. The model used by Hogwarts student, Luna Lovegood, chose me.
|Luna Lovegood's Wand|
After the studio tour we journeyed to nearby Oxford, the City of Dreaming Spires. Oxford is home to Britain’s oldest university with 38 independent colleges. The Sheldonian Theatre is the official ceremonial hall for graduations and was Sir Christopher Wren’s first major building project.
|The Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford|
|The Emperor Heads|
Radcliffe Camera is a reading room for the university’s Bodleian Library which receives a copy of every book printed in Britain – over 12 million items to date. The Bodleian’s Divinity School and Duke Humfrey’s Library were used for the Hogwarts infirmary and library in the Harry Potter films.
|The Divinity School|
Oxford has its own Bridge of Sighs connecting two sections of Hertford College. Don't you think it looks more like Venice’s Rialto Bridge?
Famous residents of Oxford include astronomer Edmund Halley who discovered the comet that bears his name; and Charles Dodgson who is better known as Lewis Carroll, author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Dodgson was a lecturer at the college of Christ Church and the real Alice was the Dean’s daughter.
The Martyrs' Memorial commemorates the Oxford Martyrs who were burnt at the stake for heresy in 1555. It’s said that mischievous students have sold unsuspecting tourists a tour of the underground church beneath the ‘spire’. The supposed stairs to this church actually lead to public toilets.
Next time we’ll return to London for a visit to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery.