A day before I left home again, I started re-reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It’s a battered copy with my name written in it in sparkly gel pen — three times. As I packed, I snuck it into my bag, leaving new, unread books behind. It’s not a coincidence that this slightly melancholy moment in my life unfolded between the pages of a Harry Potter book. When I first started university, I took Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone with me to deal with homesickness. And the more MA coursework I got stuck into this year, the more re-reads of the series I did.
Over the years, Harry Potter has become a source of comfort. Last January was such an occasion. The New Year’s festivities were behind us, leaving the world slightly deflated of energy, as if everyone were thinking, ‘What now?’. The days seemed comprised of darkness and frost. My friends and I decided to bring a bit of magical cheer into one dismal winter day by planning a Harry Potter tour of London. Here are the locations we risked frostbite to visit:
1. Platform 9 3/4
We started the day at none other than the iconic platform 9 3/4. Here, you can take a picture with the trolley, take a look around the shop and if you’re lucky, go through the barrier and spend the rest of the day in the wizarding world.
2. King’s Cross St. Pancras
Just next to King’s Cross Station is St. Pancras railway station, where the exterior shots of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was filmed. I didn’t see a flying Ford Anglia around, but I expect the Weasleys must have fixed the Invisibility Booster by now.
3. Number 12, Grimmauld Place
About 15 minutes walking distance from King’s Cross is Claremont Square, otherwise known as the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix in the last three movies. We attracted some double takes and odd glances from Muggles for taking photos of a seemingly nondescript building, but those are sacrifices you have to make as a Harry Potter fan.
4. Diagon Alley
At this point, we took the Tube to Leadenhall Market (about 20 minutes), which served as a location for Diagon Alley in the first movie. Don’t miss the little blue door at one corner, which was (is?) the entrance to The Leaky Cauldron.
5. House of MinaLima
As the day drew to a close, we made our way to House of MinaLima (about 20 minutes away by Tube). This is an exhibition of the graphics created for the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies, designed by Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima.
It’s free to enter and is probably the closest thing to stepping into the wizarding world, short of going to the Universal/Warner Bros. Studios. Find out more about it on their website.
My friends and I spent the rest of the evening within the colourful walls of House of MinaLima. Before I knew it, another dreary January day had slipped by.
This trip was quite a while ago but I got all the details straight thanks to this website, which lists even more Harry Potter-related locations in London. Let me know if you’ve been to any of these places, or are planning to — I’d love to hear your stories.
I’m blogging every day this month. Take a look at the introduction to the series here.
Thank you for reading, and until next time.