Panorama of Oxford Skyline

Oxford is one of the nicest cities I’ve ever been to, and full of history, culture, and most famously; the oldest university in Britain (and the English speaking world), dating back to as early as 1096, although no one is sure exactly when it was first founded. This gives it a history as long, and rich as Hogwarts.

It’s only an hour away from London by train (leaving from London Paddington), so it’s pretty easy to get to for a day out if you are visiting London.

Oxford University (and also Cambridge, which is the second oldest university in Britain, and also worth going to if you get the chance) doesn’t work like other UK universities. Instead of being one institute, it is a collection of colleges united under the name of Oxford University. Oxford and Cambridge (called Oxbridge) have produced 51 of the 54 British Prime Ministers, and several US Presidents. If it were an American university it would be Ivy League, and has a long history and reputation as being one of the best universities in the world.

Being so old, the city has some tremendous buildings, and more exciting for me it has around 100 libraries. It’s also quite good for shopping, restaurants, and lots of pubs to cater for all the students it has. Most of the colleges that form the university allow visitors inside, and offer guided tours, though be prepared to pay for entry. However, you should try a Footprints Tour. It’s a two hour tour, is great fun, and keep your ears pealed for the odd Harry Potter fact. You can visit their website at www.footprints-tours.com/oxford-walking-tours/2-hour-free-oxford-walking-tour Like the Harry Potter tour I mentioned in the Edinburgh post it is FREE, but tips are more than welcome by the great people who lead the tours. These guys also do tours in London, Cambridge, York, and Bath, so if you like the tour they do here, so if you go to one of these great cities you can always go on one of their tours there too.

As you explore the city there are four places all Harry Potter fans should visit. The first is Christ Church College, who’s stair case was used in the first two films as the Entrance Hall for Hogwarts, and the Dining Hall was the inspiration for the Great Hall for the set designers.

hallstairs640 hall

The south cloisters at New College were used in Goblet of Fire as a place for students to hang out, and where Mad Eye turns Malfoy into a ferret.


Two different parts of the Bodleian Library were used in several films as the infirmary, and where Harry and his friends are taught to dance my Professor McGonagall in Goblet of Fire. (The round building in the top photo is the Bodleian Library from the outside.)


The grounds of Blenheim Palace were used in The Order of the Phoenix for the Professor Snape memories in the Pensive.

Copyright E Penman 2005

Copyright E Penman 2005

You can visit www.locationoxfordshire.co.uk/trails to download a guide and map for these places. It also has guides for The Golden Compass and Inspector Morse (a British crime drama) which both also used the city as filming locations.


And as a little extra fact for all you Hufflepuffs out there, Miriam Margolyes (who played Professor Sprout in the movies) is from Oxford


“There is a reward for kindness to every living animal or human.” Muhammad.



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