Harry Potter Walking Tour II (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 II of the self-guided Happy Potter Walking Tour, you will continue your journey in the footsteps of Harry Potter and his friends by visiting several memorable filming sites including Australia House ("Gringotts Bank"), St. Paul's Cathedral (“Divination Stairwell”), Leadenhall Market ("Bull’s Head Passage"), and more.
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Harry Potter Walking Tour II Map

Guide Name: Harry Potter Walking Tour II
Guide Location: England » London (See other walking tours in London)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
Author: felicity
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Goodwin’s Court
  • Australia House
  • Blackfriars Bridge
  • Millennium Bridge
  • St. Paul's Cathedral
  • Leadenhall Market
1
Goodwin’s Court

1) 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!
2
Australia House

2) Australia House

East of Trafalgar Square, just a few minutes up the Strand on the north side of the street, opposite the old Aldwych station, is Australia House - home to the Australian High Commission - the longest continuously occupied foreign mission in London, opened by King George V in 1918.

To Harry Potter fans, however, this building is firmly associated with Gringotts Bank, the only bank of the wizarding world owned and operated by goblins. In the books, its main offices are located in North Side, Diagon Alley in London and, according to Rubeus Hagrid, other than Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Gringotts is the safest place in the entire wizarding world. The Bank played host to several important scenes in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2”. The filmmakers both, filmed inside the real-life location, as well as duplicated it at Leavesden Studios.

The opulent Beaux Arts interior of Australia House - all marble and huge glass chandeliers - was an ideal setting for Gringotts, providing the desired proportions which contrasted perfectly with its inhabitants. As the High Commission, it is not normally open to the public and you need a valid reason to get in - some official business, perhaps, like a visa application, migration, or citizenship. Otherwise, you may get a glimpse of the sumptuous interior by asking the security guards nicely and they may just let you discreetly peep through the door. Please note that the building is open Monday to Friday only, so, if you come on a weekend or public holiday, you will not be able to get a view of the interior.
3
Blackfriars Bridge

3) Blackfriars Bridge

To get to the Tate Modern from the Inns of Court, you will, of course, cross the Blackfriars Bridge, which received Grade II Listed status in 1972. The Bridge House Estates own the bridge and are responsible for its upkeep.

This foot and road bridge is 923 ft long with five wrought iron arches to match its sister railway bridge, now demolished. It was built by the P.A. Thom & Company firm to designs by Thomas Cubitt and was opened by Queen Victoria in 1869.

As you cross, you will notice stone carvings by John Birnie Philip on the piers of the bridge: on the East side the carvings represent marine life, with a variety of seabirds; on the West side you can see carvings of freshwater birds. These birds are there to remind us that the Thames is both a sea and fresh water river.

The bridge takes its name from an earlier bridge that was used by the Blackfriars, a Dominican Order of friars who wore black habits, rather than the more usual brown ones. They had a priory near the site of Blackfriars Station from 1275 until 1538, when it was closed by King Henry VIII during his Dissolution of Monasteries campaign.

*** Harry Potter Movie ***
The Blacksfriars Bridge made appearance in the 2007 film “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” featured in the scene where the Order of the Phoenix members pass underneath it on their flight from number 4, Privet Drive to Grimmauld Place.
Sight description based on wikipedia
4
Millennium Bridge

4) Millennium Bridge

The Millennium Bridge has three claims to fame: it is the newest bridge to span the Thames; it is the only pedestrian-only bridge in London and it holds the record for being the bridge with the shortest opening-closing time in history, as it was closed only two days after being inaugurated.

The bridge was designed, as its name suggests, to be opened in 2000, the start of the 21st century. In 1996 Southwark Council held a competition and invited architects from all over the world to design a new bridge that would reflect the new century and the future. The designs proposed by Foster & Partners and Ove Arup & Partners won the competition and work on the new bridge began in 1998.

The startlingly modern suspension bridge is 325 metres long with 8 suspension cables, built deliberately low to avoid spoiling the view of St Paul’s Cathedral on the North bank of the river. These cables are tensioned to pull with a force of 2000 tons against the piers set into each bank.

The bridge was opened on 10th June 2000 with an organised walk for the Save the Children Fund. The walkers noticed that the bridge had a strange swaying motion – they said that the bridge “wobbled”. The bridge was closed two days later and didn’t reopen until 2002 when the problem, called Synchronous Lateral Excitation, was solved by the introduction of 32 fluid-viscous dumpers to control the horizontal movement and 52 tuned mass dumpers to control the vertical movement of the bridge.

*** Harry Potter Movie ***
Known colloquially as the “wobbly bridge,” the Millennium Bridge had to undergo further modifications to mend the structural faults discovered during its initial use, seeing the pedestrians fall over as they tried to cross it! Perhaps it was due to that association that the filmmakers decided to show it as targeted by death eaters in the screen adaptation of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” instead of the Brockdale Bridge whose collapse occurs in the book.

Fortunately, dramatically destroyed in the horrific opening scene, where it snaps and breaks after the death eaters rip through London leaving behind a path of destruction, the now iconic Millennium Bridge was not harmed during filming and you can have fun safely walking on it today

Why You Should Visit:
Ideal link from Tate Modern and Globe Theatre on one side to the St Paul’s Cathedral, conveniently placed if you have a walk between the banks.
A great pedestrian-only bridge to walk on and very picturesque with St Paul’s Cathedral in the background.

Tip:
Wear comfortable shoes. Take an umbrella or a rain-proof jacket, just in case.
Also, note the paintings or stickers that are on the floor of the bridge.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 10am-6pm; Sat-Sun: 11am-6pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
St. Paul's Cathedral

5) St. Paul's Cathedral (must see)

Ludgate Hill, one of three ancient hills in London, has been the site of a place of worship since 604 AD. The present building on the hill is St Paul’s Cathedral, and it is quite rightly one of the most famous of London’s landmarks and the most visited cathedral in the world, after St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Between 604 and the Great Fire of 1666, there had been several churches on the hill, and after the last one was destroyed in the Great Fire, Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to build a new, bigger one. He had to make five different designs of the building before one was finally chosen; work began in 1675 and the cathedral was officially opened in 1711.

The interior of the cathedral is very beautiful with the inner dome painted with 8 monochromes by Sir James Thornhill, depicting the life of St Paul. The inner dome holds three galleries: the internal Whispering Gallery takes its name from the unique acoustics – a whisper against the wall on one side of the gallery can be heard on the other side. Above this is the external Stone Gallery and above that is the external Golden Gallery.

In the Nave there are three chapels: on the North aisle are the All Souls Chapel and the St Dunstan’s Chapel; on the South aisle is St George and St Michael Chapel. The Knights Bachelor Chapel and the OBE Chapel are to be found in the crypt.

The tombs of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Christopher Wren are also in the crypt, along with tombs and memorials to many others who have made a great contribution to the nation, including artist and musicians. Sir Winston Churchill’s funeral was held here, and of course, the marriage of Prince Charles to Lady Diana was celebrated in the cathedral.

***Charles Dickens Tour***
St Paul’s Cathedral, as a setting, is featured heavily in many novels by Charles Dickens. In "Master Humphrey’s Clock", for example, Dickens describes Master Humphrey going up to the top of St Paul’s Cathedral, then the tallest building in London, for the panoramic city view. He writes: ‘Draw but a little circle above the clustering house tops, and you shall have within its space, everything with its opposite extreme and contradiction, close beside’.

Another Dickens's work – "David Copperfield" – takes Peggotty to the top of St. Paul’s to enjoy the impressive views over London, which is something visitors still do today.

The area around the iconic cathedral Dickens knew well and frequented himself for various reasons, including major public events, like the funeral of the Duke of Wellington in 1852.

*** Harry Potter Movie ***
Other than architecture- and history buffs, nowadays Harry Potter fans also have their reason to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral. The point of interest for them is the spectacular spiral Geometric Staircase (also known as the Dean’s Stair) that appears to be floating out of the walls of the Cathedral’s South West Bell Tower. Recognizable from “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”, this winding staircase leads to the astronomy tower and is where students climbed up the stone steps towards Professor Trelawney’s Divination classes held in a classroom atop a Hogwart’s North Tower. It was also featured in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” as the Turris Magnus staircase. To view the staircase, you will need to enter the Cathedral on a visitor ticket.

***Shakespeare Walk***
The medieval St Paul’s Cathedral, predecessor of Sir Christopher Wren’s landmark dome design, was one of the largest European churches of its time, whose spire dominated the skyline of London until it burned down in the Great Fire of 1666. During Shakespeare’s lifetime, the area around St Paul’s was very different to what it is today.

Apart from being the centre of religious, political, cultural and social life in the city, the Cathedral was also the heart of London’s book trade and its environment was quite important in shaping the literary works of that period. By 1600, Shakespeare was the most published professional dramatist, and the first editions of his plays including Titus Andronicus, Richard II, Richard III, 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV, Much Ado About Nothing, and The Merchant of Venice were all bought and sold in St Paul’s Churchyard. It is also very likely that Shakespeare himself scouted the local bookshops for content that would furnish him with source material for his own work. In large part, the environment of St Paul’s shaped Shakespeare’s writing and influenced its survival and reception.

Why You Should Visit:
An architectural masterpiece and symbol of London during the War.
There is always much to explore, both above ground and in the crypt.

Tip:
You have to pay for the entrance of this cathedral. Buy tickets online to save time. You can also buy an audio tour at the entrance.
To really appreciate the interior, you should climb the steps to the dome (which should take a good 30 min.) You will find an external viewing area at the top.
Part way up there is also a whispering gallery from which you look down into the church from above.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 8:30am-4:30pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Leadenhall Market

6) Leadenhall Market

Built in 1881, Leadenhall Market is one of the oldest marketplaces in London where meat and fish had been sold since as far back as the 14th century. Located in the historic center of London’s financial district, this beautiful covered Victorian market is a rather magical place for a bit of shopping. Its ornate painted green and red roof and cobbled floors made Leadenhall a popular attraction even before it played a starring role in the Harry Potter series.

In the films, the market is featured as the area of London which secretly leads magical folk to Diagon Alley, the cobblestoned shopping hub of the wizarding world where Hogwarts students stock up on school supplies like spell books and wands. Harry and Hagrid walk through the market as they approach the Leaky Cauldron, which holds a sneaky entrance to the alley.

In both, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone” and “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” an empty storefront at 42 Bull’s Head Passage (at Leadenhall Market) was used as the entrance of the Leaky Cauldron. The shop was vacant at the time, so filmmakers were able to paint it black and hang up a Leaky Cauldron sign for the scene. Its rounded blue doorway is now instantly recognizable to Harry Potter fans. Today the shop is occupied by Glass House Opticians, so, with a bit of luck, you may even find Mad-Eye Moody here, getting fitted for a contact lens...

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