While the latest film in the Harry Potter universe, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, takes places exclusively in New York City, London has certainly been an important place to these stories. Throughout the books and over the course of eight films, London has played a central role in the story of the Boy Who Lived and his battle against He Who Must Not Be Named. London has both real-life filming locations to visit as well as studio sets that are worth your time. If you find yourself in London and you feel up for making your trip a little more magical, be sure to visit these places.
Just a little beyond London’s borders is 12 Picket Post Close in Bricknell, where the story truly begins. If you don’t recognise the address, you may know it as 4 Privet Drive, the home of the Dursleys and Harry. The house only appeared in the first film and was a studio set for the remainder of the franchise. It actually went up for sale recently, but be respectful to the new owners and don’t ask to see the cupboard under the stairs. Harry first realises that something is different about himself when he visits the Reptile House at ZSL London Zoo.
After Harry discovers he is a wizard and Hagrid takes him to the Leaky Cauldron, Leadenhall Market features prominently as the entrance to the Wizard eatery and to Diagon Alley. Meanwhile, the interior for Gringotts Bank was the Exhibition Hall in Australia House, though you’re not likely to get in unless your work for Australia’s government. Though this might be disappointing, the next place to hit is St. Pancras and King’s Cross, the departure point for the famed Hogwarts Express. While you won’t be able to take a trip through Platform 9 ¾ to get to the train, the station has set up a spot for photo ops complete with a half-disappeared buggy and a sign. What’s more, there’s a Harry Potter store where you can buy some great merchandise.
While several of these locations would reappear throughout the film series, the next time we get a new London location is in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Dowding Way and Aerodrome Way across the street from Warner Bros. studios are where Harry gets a ride from the Knight Bus. The studios are also where you’ll find the Harry Potter Studio Tour if you want to visit many of the sets used in filming. Greens Lane, Palmers Green, and Park Avenue all feature on the bus’s route, as does Lambeth Bridge, where it manages to squeeze itself between a couple double-deckers. Not too far from the south end of Stoney Street is the new location for the Leaky Cauldron, which at one point was an oyster bar.
Moving onto Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the location where Hagrid shows Harry the dragons for the Tri-Wizard Tournament is actually Black Park Local Nature Reserve, near Pinewood Studios where some filming took place. The Thames is a major location for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix which shows off every major London landmark along the way to the home of Claremont Square, which conveniently hide No. 12 Grimmauld Place, Sirius Black’s home and the headquarters for the Order. Most fittingly, the Ministry of Magic would have its own headquarters in Whitehall and the entrance used by Harry and Mr. Weasley to attend Harry’s hearing is at Scotland Place near the original Scotland Yard (though the phone box they used was a prop). Additionally, the Westminster Underground Station is where Arthur Weasley has difficulty figuring out how Oyster cards work.
The Death Eaters’ attack at the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is more scenery porn for London, featuring City Hall, the Millennium Bridge, and Tower Bridge, amongst other places. Platform 3 of Surbiton Station about ten miles south of London features a waiting area that was a café in the film and from where Dumbledore picks up Harry for their journey to recruit Professor Slughorn. As everyone leaves their homes to embark on a mission to destroy the Horcruxes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, Hermione’s home is seen as being in Heathgate, Hampton Garden Suburb. The attempts to get Harry to safety from Privet Drive once again gives us excellent views of London.
However, as safe as the Weasley Borrow seemed, an attack on Bill and Fleur’s wedding forces Harry, Hermione, and Ron to flee, with Hermione’s wild apparition spell landing them in Piccadilly Circus. Whitehall and Scotland Place appear again as Ministry headquarters as Harry, Ron, and Hermione sneaks in to steal a Horcrux from Delores Umbridge. While most of Part 2 takes place on studio sets and in fictional locations, the final scene returns us to King’s Cross for a view of the future as Harry, Ron, and Hermione (along with a few familiar faces) see their own kids off to Hogwarts.
John Sutherland says
Leadenhall Market was also used in John Wayne’s only UK based film “Brannigan”. It’s the location of the pub where he & Richard Attenborough engage in a pub brawl to gain access to a ‘villain’.