I couldn’t wait to follow the footsteps of the world’s favourite wizard through Oxford’s most spectacular College. Many of the scenes in the Harry Potter feature films are shot in various locations of the College and as you walk around the cloisters and quadrangles it is easy to see why. They say that by walking through the corridors you experience the atmosphere of Hogwarts.
Christ Church is part of the University of Oxford in England and was traditionally considered the most aristocratic college of this university. As well as being a college, Christ Church is actually also a cathedral church of Oxford, namely Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.
As we entered Christ Church we got to walk through the beautiful and intricately vaulted cloisters. The cloisters in Christ Church were first built 1000 years ago. This ancient vintage made them the ideal setting for various scenes. It is here that Harry is shown the trophy his father won as a seeker in Quidditch.
This college is actually the largest and most visited of all Oxford’s Colleges. In the middle of the College lies Tom Quad, the largest quad in Oxford, and Tom Tower, which was dedicated to Thomas of Canterbury. Unfortunately we ere not allowed to walk across this quad. The upper section of the tower was designed by Sir Christopher Wren in 1682. The 7-tonne bell in the tower chimes 101 times each night at 9:05 pm, the time when the original 101 students were called back for curfew. Since Oxford is 5 minutes west of Greenwich, this is actually 9 pm Oxford time. We left way before these bells were due to be rung but I am sure it must be a beautiful sound.
We had to stand in line with hundreds of other people trying to get a glimpse of the famous Great Hall of Christ Church.
We got to walk up the beautiful 16th century staircase leading up the Great Hall. It is here that as Harry and the new first-years enter Hogwarts they are greeted by Professor McGonagall. It was a bit crowded and unfortunately we couldn’t stop and get a photo as we walked up these stairs.
The Great Hall was replicated in the film studios to create Hogwart’s Hall. It is here that students eat their meals, receive daily owl post, and have certain special events.
The Hall is definitely not big enough to be used in the movie but I could see why they would create a Hall very similar to this one for a magical world! As we walked through the hall we were actually ushered along and couldn’t stand still and appreciate its beauty for too long.
Many of the faces in the portraits that cover the walls are the real “Wizards” who have changed the way we understand the world.
Christ Church has a very long association with children’s literature – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland were inspired and written here by Lewis Carroll.
On the right of the Hall, is a portrait of Charles Dodgson (Lews Carroll – famed author of Alice in Wonderland). The best part is that there is a large stained glass window, featuring characters from Alice above the fireplace as well as brass characters in the fireplace itself. The fireplace of the hall was actually used in the movie version of this story.
In 1851, Charles Dodgson came to ChristChurch to study mathematics. He spent the rest of his life here as a student and teacher. It was while he wrote for a student paper that he was given the writing name – “Lewis Carroll,” by his editor.
It was at ChristChurch that Dodgson first met the children of the then Dean (head of the College): Harry, Alice, Lorina and Edith. He had asked permission to photograph the Cathedral from the Deanery garden. While in the process of setting up his cumbersome equipment he was approached by Alice and her two sisters who wanted to be photographed. Soon, their friendship blossomed and the girls were regular visitors to his rooms, and he to their nursery.
The girls loved Dodgson to tell them stories, turning their everyday surroundings into Wonderland stories. Although the stories were fantastic in nature, Dodgson would use familiar things and people as the starting point. Christ Church – the place which Alice had known all her life plays a very important part in many of her adventures in Wonderland!
There is plenty more Lewis Carroll and Alice information at other Oxford venues, including Alice’s Shop, which is the real site of the old Sheep Shop which appears in Alice through the Looking Glass.