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Harry Potter Walking Tour I (Self Guided), London

The arrival of Harry Potter books, followed by tremendously successful Hollywood adaptation, has made London an even more popular destination now with the Harry Potter fans all over the world. The list of attractions in the city associated with Potter’s journeys includes both, newly-invented as well as some long-standing locations. On Part I of the self-guided Happy Potter Walking Tour, you will follow in the footsteps of the young wizard and his friends in the British capital by visiting the filming sites including Westminster Underground Station, Great Scotland Yard, Piccadilly Circus, and more.
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Harry Potter Walking Tour I Map

Guide Name: Harry Potter Walking Tour I
Guide Location: England » London (See other walking tours in London)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Author: clare
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Westminster Underground Station
  • Number 10 Downing Street
  • Great Scotland Yard
  • Piccadilly Circus
  • House of MinaLima
  • Charing Cross Road
  • Cecile's Court
  • Goodwin’s Court
1
Westminster Underground Station

1) Westminster Underground Station

For muggles the Westminster Underground station may be the nearest to the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and Westminster Bridge, but for the wizards like Mr. Weasley and Harry Potter it was also passage to the Ministry of Magic, as shown in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” Poor Mr. Weasley struggled here for a bit with the barriers on his way out, not knowing how to properly apply the ticket – just like many of the first-time comers to the London Underground!

To film this scene in the movie, the station had to be shut down for a whole day. In another instance, Westminster Station came into sight when Harry and the Order of the Phoenix members whizzed past it, along the River Thames, towards the London Eye, aboard their broomsticks - yee-haw!!!
2
Number 10 Downing Street

2) Number 10 Downing Street

10 Downing Street, or simply “Number 10”, is the official residence and the office of British Prime Minister. It has been UK's no. 1 address for almost 300 years. The building contains over 100 rooms and was once three separate houses, now combined. A private residence in which the Prime Minister's family lives is on the third floor and their kitchen is in the basement. The other floors contain offices and numerous conference and reception rooms. There is an interior courtyard and, in the back, a terrace overlooking a half-acre garden. The Cabinet Room is separated from the rest of the house by soundproof doors.

The famous black front door is actually made of reinforced steel, rather than wood as most people may erroneously believe. This door has no keyhole and can only be opened from the inside, for which purpose there's always a doorman on duty. Speaking of that, the expression “In the hot seat” literally originates in Downing Street. A large black chair in the entrance hall of Number 10 is the seat previously used by the nightwatchman. This chair has an underneath drawer which, back in the day, was filled with hot coal to keep the guy on duty warm during long, cold night hours. The lamp above the door, the lion door knocker and the black and white floor in the entrance hall are also the iconic features. They were all added under the premiership of Lord Frederick North between 1770 and 1782.

Just as many other London properties, Downing Street suffered damage during WWII. On 14 October 1940, a bomb falling nearby hit the kitchen and state rooms. In 1991 another – mortar attack perpetrated by IRA – shuttered 10 Downing Street again. A reminder of that attack is the splinter stuck in the plasterwork upstairs, left untouched.

The walls of the Grand Staircase are lined with portraits of every British Prime Minister in chronological order. During his years as prime minister, Tony Blair had six plaster bees commissioned in the window frames in one of the drawing rooms upstairs. Under Mrs. Thatcher, there was a little model roof thatcher built into one of the door frames. None of this, however, is open to a public eye, as the entry to Number 10 is strictly forbidden to the general public for security reasons. Only staff and authorized personnel are allowed in.

*** Harry Potter Movie***
Contrary to what many habitually perceive in their every-day life as solely the home and office of the British Prime Minister, the number 10 Downing Street is also where, according to the first chapter of “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince,” is a portal between the wizarding world and the muggles world, through which leader of the U.K. can occasionally communicate with the Minister for Magic.

It is also here that the magician Kingsley Shacklebolt operate undercover as a protector of the Prime Minister in a war against the evil magical forces led by Lord Voldemort. Apparently, there is more to this place than meets the eye…

Tip:
Recommended as part of a much wider visit to Whitehall and Westminster as a whole.
3
Great Scotland Yard

3) Great Scotland Yard

Famed in the late 19th century by the world-famous British fictional character, Sherlock Holmes, recently the former headquarters of London’s Metropolitan Police, habitually referred to as simply “Scotland Yard,” made appearance in the Harry Potter series as well. Outside Westminster Station, the Great Scotland Yard provided setting for the Ministry of Magic’s exterior, while the rear entrance to the Scotland Yard itself appeared as the Visitor’s Entrance to the MoM.

Viewers of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” will surely recognize the spot at the corner of Scotland Place with a red phone box through which the characters would enter the Ministry by dialing the magic 62442 combination. Sadly, you won’t be able to repeat the stunt, as the phone booth was only a prop specially brought in for the movie and was promptly removed once the filming was done.

Scotland Place made another appearance in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1” when Harry, Hermione, and Ron sneaked into the Ministry under the guise of MoM employees.
4
Piccadilly Circus

4) Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus was built originally as a junction between Regent Street and Piccadilly in 1819. Back then, it was a circle roundabout up until 1886, when Shaftesbury Avenue was built and the circle was gone. But the name stuck. The name Piccadilly derives from one of the shops once present in the area, called Piccadilly Hall. Its owner, Robert Baker, was the tailor specialized in making certain collars, known as piccadills. Hence the name.

The postcard image of Piccadilly Circus is traditionally dominated by huge advertising boards mounted on the corner building of its north side. The very first illuminated sign put up there was that of Perrier mineral water in 1908. For the whole duration of WWII, Piccadilly Circus remained in total blackout and was re-lit only in 1949. The only other times the Piccadilly lights went out again were for funerals of Churchill and Princess Diana, and for the Earth Hour organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Beneath the ground, Piccadilly Circus houses two outstanding sights: Criterion Theatre and Piccadilly Circus tube station. Built in 1873, the theater is entirely underground except for box office. Back in the 19th century, during its performances fresh air had to be pumped in specially to ventilate the building from toxic fumes from the gas lights. As for the Piccadilly tube station, it is one of the few stations on London Underground network that is truly 100% underground. For a short while after its opening in 1906, the station did have an above-ground ticket office, but it was scrapped in the 1920s after the station's renovation.

Another key sight to behold in Piccadilly Circus is the Shaftesbury memorial fountain and the statue often erroneously attributed to Eros. The fountain was built in 1893 to commemorate philanthropist Lord Shaftesbury. While the statue depicts Greek god Anteros, the bow in his hand makes it look like the Greek god of love, Eros.

On the west side of Piccadilly, one can still see a relic police public call box, established in 1935, one of the few left in Britain.

Another secret treasure mounted to a wall somewhere in Piccadilly Circus is a sculpted nose - one of the Seven Noses of Soho. Legend has it that whoever finds all the seven noses, will get rich beyond measure. Wonder if any of the nearly half a million people passing here every day is after that fortune...)

*** Harry Potter Movie***
One of London’s best known landmarks recognized by its neon advertising screens, perpetual crowds and the Eros statue, Piccadilly Circus appears in the “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1” in one of the most memorable scenes where Harry, Hermione and Ron rush through London’s West End after fleeing from Death Eaters, who had attacked Bill’s wedding, and have a narrow escape from being run over by a quintessential London red double-decker bus. The actual spot where it took place in the movie is just in front of The Gap store, right off Piccadilly Circus, whereas in the book they ended up in Tottenham Court Road. Filming the scene in such a popular tourist location as Piccadilly Circus was a real challenge!

Why You Should Visit:
A classic, fast-paced London intersection, very centrally located, from where you can easily explore Regent St, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, Coventry Garden and the West End theatre district.

Tip:
Best seen at night for maximum effect.
5
House of MinaLima

5) House of MinaLima

Miraphora Mina & Eduardo Lima (Mina + Lima = MinaLima) are a team of graphic designers who helped create the world of Harry Potter - the style, graphics and the majority of props for all the Potter movies. Upon the completion of the now iconic film franchise, they opened the House of MinaLima, a lovely boutique shop representing to the devoted Potterheads a treasure trove of graphic art from the wizarding world including prints, books, and other Potter-related objects.

On the ground floor you will find stationary, books, mugs and badges, while the three floors above comprise a gorgeous free HP exhibition – a true Harry Potter fandom heaven. Nearly everything on display here is for sale - journals that look like Hogwarts textbooks, copies of the Quibbler, composition books that characters used during their time at Hogwarts, posters from the Daily Prophet and so much more. There's something charming for every pocket. An authentic gem for any Harry Potter fan spending a day in London!
6
Charing Cross Road

6) Charing Cross Road

Renowned for its second-hand bookshops and spell-binding antique shops which give this street its intriguing charm, it seems only natural that Charing Cross Road inspired J.K. Rowling to set the entrance to London’s magical world nowhere else but here. In the Harry Potter books, the Leaky Cauldron pub and boarding house for wizards – in which Harry lives for a brief period at the beginning of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” – is a gateway between the non-wizarding world and Diagon Alley, the wizarding shopping district where young Harry goes in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” to buy all his school supplies for the upcoming year at Hogwarts.

To the non-wizard or muggle eyes it appears like a closed storefront located on Charing Cross Road in London’s West End. Harry also walked down Charing Cross Road with Hagrid, and later rode down it on the Knight Bus and in Ministry cars. There’s also a clothing shop on Charing Cross Road called “A Child of the Jago” with the uniquely dressed window displaying what looks like wizarding clothes and costumes.
7
Cecile's Court

7) Cecile's Court

Just off Charing Cross Road - the first lane on the right as you walk up the street - is a small charming thoroughfare, one of the oldest in London, known as Cecil Court. This picturesque one-block pedestrian street, lined with quirky Victorian-era shop fronts, is credited with having provided inspiration to J.K. Rowling for creating Diagon Alley, which is easy to believe given the presence of rather eccentric shops here, including some fittingly specialized in magical or psychic literature, like the one called “The Witch’s Ball”.

Generally, at these stores you will find anything, from rare editions and second-hand books, collector’s copies and first-editions, to old stamps, maps, posters, banknotes and other antiques. Marchpane, a children’s bookstore, even carries the rare signed copies of Harry Potter books. The whole street feels so eerily similar to Diagon Alley that one may half expect to stumble across Ollivanders Wand Shop or a pint of Butterbeer!
8
Goodwin’s Court

8) Goodwin’s Court

The London area of Covent Garden is full of tiny alleyways with small storefronts. One such little-known and hidden dark narrow passage, called Goodwin’s Court, is built into the frontage of The Theatre Goers Club of Great Britain, adjacent to 55-56 St Martin's Lane, just a stone’s throw away from Cecil Court and Charing Cross Road. A step into this lovely court, built circa 1627, takes you back in time to the Georgian period manifested in the typical bowed windows (remnants of the previously existent row of shops), polished black doors with shiny knockers and knobs with brass plates indicating the names of tenant businesses. There are three large, operational gas lamps illuminating the path.

*** Harry Potter Movie ***
Lined with topsy-turvy buildings, crooked houses, and bulging windows, this place is every inch Diagon Alley (or possibly its creepy evil twin, Knockturn Alley, depending on how cloudy the day is) and is definitely worth a wander if only to see the real street lanterns and darkly painted buildings that inspired the Warner Brothers-built props used in Harry Potter movies. Although not filled with wizard books, robes or wands, the black bay windows, the Godwin’s Court tunnel bears so much similarity to the actual film set that it can give you a case of shivers at the thought of stumbling across the likes of Bellatrix Lestrange or Lucius Malfoy apparating in the middle of the night!

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