Welcome to the sixth post in our journey through Harry Potter’s England. See the complete list of other Harry Potter travel posts at the end of this post.
Next up on our journey? The city of Oxford and the esteemed Oxford University. Are you ready for some schooling? Well then, grab your notepad, pen, and let’s get going! First on the agenda is Oxford University’s incredible Bodleian Library.
Book Hunting At The Bodleian Library
Oxford University’s Bodleian Library is world re-known for the vast wealth of knowledge housed within it’s walls. It’s also known as the setting for the following two well known Harry Potter scenes:
Inside The Hogwarts Library Restricted Room
Start your quest for knowledge at Duke Humfrey’ Library, a special collections reading room at Bodleian Library. Shhhhh. Grab your invisibility cloak and head towards the restricted rooms. Oh wait – that’s what Harry did! Yep, this is the setting for the infamous Hogwarts Library Restricted Books Room,where Harry used his invisibility cloak to sneak in while searching for the origins of Nicholas Flamel.
Take a few moments to wander around the library. Who knows? You might even see Hermoine as she scours the books in search of the meaning of the Sorcerer’s Stone. Well, maybe not Hermoine, but with just a little imagination, you too will be walking through Hogwarts Library.
Bedside In The Hogwarts Infirmary
Take a walk outside Bodleian Library to the Divinity School, right next door. Look familiar? Can’t quite place where you’ve seen those big windows before? Think hard and you’ll remember! This room is where Harry woke up in the Hogwarts Infirmary in The Sorcerer’s Stone, and where Ron recovers from being poisoned in The Half-Blood Prince.
The muggles around here know this area as as the Divinity School. They’ve cleverly disguised the room as a Divinity School meeting room.
A Grand Welcome To Christ Church College
Let’s head on over to Christ Church College. The cloisters of the College has seen it’s fair share of muggles and magicals over the years! That’s because Christ Church College was the back drop for quite a few scenes in the Harry Potter movies as well as the inspiration of two very notable Harry Potter settings:
A Grand Welcome By Professor McGonagall
Recognize this 16th century staircase leading into Christ Church’s Great Hall? You should! It’s the very staircase Harry and the rest of the first year students walked up as they entered Hogwarts for the first time.
Don’t forget to wave to Professor McGonagall. She’d be standing at the top of the staircase, right there in the middle, welcoming the students back to Hogwarts.
Dining a’la Hogwarts Style
Take a stroll through the grand and glorious Christ Church College Great Hall. Stop. Look around you. You can almost see the floating candles, suspended in the air as they did whenever the students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry would settle down for a meal in the Hogwarts Dining Hall. Sorry, no Sorting Hats in here today!
That’s right! Christ Church College’s Great Hall was the inspiration for Hogwart’s Dining Hall, and what an inspiration it was!
Spotting Ferrets In New College
Watch out for annoying ferrets in New College’s cloisters! That’s because it’s where Mad Eye Moody turned Malfoy into a ferret.
Though I think he was returned to his human form, so you shouldn’t come across any ferrets during your wanderings around New College.
A Bit of History on Oxford University
Oxford University is a collection of independently founded colleges, each one with it’s own history, and it’s own administration. The colleges came into existence over time, with the oldest ones dating back to the mid-13th century. It is believed that teaching at Oxford began as early as 1096, making it the oldest English speaking university in the world.
Christ Church College is one of the largest Oxford University colleges, and was founded by Cardinal Thomas Woolsey in the early 16th century. It has been an educational institution for over 500 hundred years. One of the College’s most famous students was a mathematician named Charles Dodgson. You might know him by his pen name – Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland. It’s also where Sir Christopher Wren, William Penn and a score of British prime ministers were educated. And of course, Harry, Hermoine, Ron and the rest of the Hogwarts students!
Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries are world renown for both their vast collection of printed materials as well as their impressive buildings, some of which date back to the Middle Ages. The original reading room was established in 1488! The main Bodleian Library first opened its doors in 1602, and has been in continuous use ever since. The libraries house a massive repository of over eleven million printed materials as well as more than 50,000 e-journals and other materials in different formats.
Take a tour of Oxford, and you’ll be walking alongside some very esteemed former students. Oscar Wilde, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and many others, once called Oxford University home.
So Much More To See In Oxford
The city of Oxford is so much more than “just” Oxford University. That being said, it is the college town! Find stunning architecture, some dating as far back as the 13th century. Experience history and culture with the scores of museums, parks, gardens and shops. End the day sipping a cold one at a traditional English pub. Yep, more than enough to spend all day exploring. Maybe even two days! And you don’t have to be a Harry Potter fan to enjoy everything that Oxford has to offer.
Oxford is about 60 miles northwest of London. It is very easy to get to, no matter your transportation methods.
The Journey Ends … But It’s Not Over Yet!
Are you interested in learning more about how I put this whole trip together? Want to learn how you too can create your own journey through Harry Potter’s England? Then read Plan Your Own Trip To Harry Potter’s England, the final post in my Harry Potter Travel series.
Don’t miss the entire series about our journey through Harry Potter’s England:
- A Muggle’s Exploration of Harry Potter’s England
- Alnwick Castle – Quidditch Anyone?
- A Muggle’s View of Harry Potter’s London
- Lacock Abbey – Inside A Hogwart’s Classroom
- Gloucester Cathedral – In The Halls of Hogwarts
- Plan Your Own Trip To Harry Potter’s England
Have you been to Oxford University and the city of Oxford? What did you enjoy the most? Let us know in the Comments section below.
Images from Warner Brothers (Hogwarts Library), RISDVisualResourcesCenter via Flickr (Bodleian Library), Erika via Flickr (Staircase), CBiederman, Warner Brothers (New College), and Christ Church College.