Potter Month-Oxford School of Wichcraft and Wizardry

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

In anticipation of the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Super Space Chick and The Nerdy Girlie are currently hosting a Potter Month, and being such a Potterhead myself I decided to contribute!

Hogwarts is first and foremost a school. Before the sets were built on Leavesden Studios, Harry Potter was filmed at locations all over the U.K. Many iconic scenes from the films were shot at Oxford. Although I was officially sorted into Hufflepuff I have always been a Ravenclaw at heart and have devoted most of my life to my academic studies. While we are all still waiting for our Hogwarts letters to come, I think you will all agree that Oxford is the closest we muggles will get to Hogwarts in the real world.  

(This building is called Radcliffe's Camera. It was meant to be!)

The city of Oxford is home to the oldest university in the English speaking world, and its medieval roots are evident wherever you look, from the cobblestoned streets to the towering spires of the colleges. Not only was Oxford home to a number of filming locations for the Harry Potter films, the university has produced some of the world's most celebrated authors: Lewis Carroll, J.R.R Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis. These authors have created rich fantasy worlds that no doubt influenced J.K. Rowling. 

(The Alice Shop, where Lewis Carroll bought sweets for the girl that inspired his stories about Wonderland)

Last summer, while I was writing my big research paper for graduate school, I was feeling very cooped up and decided I was in need of an adventure. So I started to look up calls for papers for academic conferences in Canada and the U.S. In my search I stumbled upon a call for papers for a conference that would be held that August, and I had a paper that fit the theme perfectly. Oh, and the conference was to be held at Oxford. OXFORD! One of the most prestigious universities in the WORLD! I knew then and there Oxford was the closest to Hogwarts I was ever going to get so I wrote a stellar abstract and  I sent it in with bated breath. The next day I had an email from the committee saying “Thank you for your fascinating abstract. I will be in touch when the peer review is complete.”  Two days later it was confirmed. I was going to Oxford!

 When I arrived, I explored the city of Oxford, on the lookout for some magical locations. I was able to go in the Bodleian Library, the site of the Hogwarts Library and the Hospital Wing. But, since the weekend was graduation for the students, the Divinity Hall (aka the Hospital Wing) was closed for the ceremony. I was able to tour Duke Humphries Library, what we recognize as the restricted section at Hogwarts! Because of the delicate nature of the books and the painted coffered ceilings photography was not allowed. Nonetheless I was thrilled to stand somewhere the golden trio once stood!

New College Cloisters, the site of the infamous scene in which Draco is turned into a ferret, was also closed due to graduation. But I was able to take a sneaky shot through the gate (you can see the porter was not very pleased with my antics). 

Christ Church is the home to two famous scenes from the first film. The stairway where Harry and Draco meet, and the Great Hall. AGAIN it was closed for graduation (much to the dismay of the people who stood in line, like me!). I was gutted to have so many locations closed. How was I going to get my Hogwarts experience?

(my "house" Mansfield College)
Luckily for me the conference I was attending took place in a college with its own dining area to rival the great hall. Instead of just snapping a few pictures from the sidelines at Christ Church, I dined in a hall with long wooden tables and a dias with a bird lectern I imagine Dumbledore would stand at to deliver his beginning of the term speech. 

(the dining hall is here in the old rectory!) 

(Welcome back students! I am totally pretending to be Dumbledore here) 

The conference itself was like attending a class at Hogwarts. Our 'classroom' had high ceilings, arched windows, wooden chairs that look fit for Hogwarts headmasters, and some paintings I wish would move. There I am in the corner, appreciating the all the interesting papers.

 (look at that fireplace! If only I could travel back by floo powder!)

While I was presenting my paper, I felt like a Hogwarts professor addressing my colleagues. Hopefully my talk wasn't as dull as one of Professor Bins' History of Magic lessons! 

If only there were some floating candles above that gorgeous chandelier. All the heraldry painted on the ceiling reminds me of the house crests. Don't see any lions, badgers, snakes, or eagles though. 

Not only was staying at my residence and attending the conference like living and eating at Hogwarts, the streets of Oxford themselves could have been Diagon Alley! Shopkeepers in the local area take advantage of the pull of Harry Potter and decorate their windows accordingly! 

(even though I am not a witch I would totally shop here!)

("that's the nimbus 2000! The fastest racing broom yet!")

The conference lasted two days and I had only one day of free time to attempt a day trip.  I decided to go to Blenheim Palace (you might recognize it from the films The Young Victoria and last year's live-action Cinderella) . 

On the grounds of the stately home you will find the tree where Snape sat that fateful afternoon in the Order of the Phoenix. My sister and I have a collection of rocks we painted that represent our love of Harry Potter and Doctor Who. When she went to New York she left the Tardis rock in Central Park and on my trip she charged me with placing the Hedwig Rock in the tree from Snape’s Worst Memory. Sadly, I did not find the exact tree, the grounds are huge and I had to leave before the film tour started. So I found an appropriate tree to leave  something behind for another Potterhead to find! 

I am still disappointed I didn’t have time to go to Kings Cross to Platform 9 3/4 for a great photo op and some much desired merchandise, but I did have a little time to go in Primark and buy some Hogwarts socks! 

I plan to return to England soon (hopefully) and for another Harry Potter adventure but I feel so fortunate that I was able to represent my school internationally, much like the champions in the Triwizard Tournament (but without all the dragons, mermaids and dark lords!) 

You Might Also Like


Popular Posts

Like us on Facebook

Flickr Images