Durham Cathedral Marks 20 Years As A Harry Potter Filming Location

Tuesday 16 November marks 20 years since the first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, was released in cinemas, and as a Harry Potter filming location, Durham Cathedral is inviting visitors to celebrate this milestone anniversary.

Between 16 -21 November, fans are invited to don their wizarding robes and house colours to explore the cathedral and see some of the famous filming locations.

As well as visiting the cloisters, which was featured in the first two films, on Saturday 20 November between 10am – 2pm, the cathedral is also opening the Chapter House for this special occasion. The Chapter House was used as a filming location for a Professor McGonagall’s memorable wizarding classroom scene.

Durham Cathedral Marks 20 Years As A Harry Potter Filming Location
Durham Cathedral

Pam Hill, Head of Visitor Experience says, “Some of the film’s most iconic scenes were filmed here at the cathedral. The most obvious one to spot is probably when Harry releases Hedwig in the snow, which was filmed in the cloisters. Although it’s not accessible to the public, if you look up when standing in the Nave of the cathedral, you can see the Triforium, which was the setting for the Forbidden Corridor, home to Fluffy the three headed dog.”

Being a blockbuster filming location for films with such a huge following, such as Harry Potter, also encourages broader audiences to visit the cathedral.

Pam continues, “It’s not uncommon to see university students with robes and wands, posing in the cloister to get the perfect selfie and we often have families with young children, dressed up as their favourite wizard taking a peek through the keyhole to the Chapter House. This is why we’re encouraging fans to come dressed up to celebrate 20 years of the first film.”

Being so close to Durham University, the Harry Potter Society often visit the cathedral to see the iconic filming locations and take photos to share on social media. Martin Cafolla, Secretary of Durham University’s Harry Potter Society: “I’ve been a fan of Harry Potter for as long as I can remember; I read the books and watched most of the films as they came out. So it was a great joy to learn that Durham Cathedral was a filming location – it made me (and I’m sure a lot of other people) very excited at matriculation knowing that I was walking along the very same courtyard as the actors did all those years ago (in a gown as well)!”

Durham University Harry Potter Society inside the Chapter House at Durham Catehdral.
Durham University Harry Potter Society inside the Chapter House at Durham Catehdral

The cathedral welcomes a diverse range of visitors through our doors and the Harry Potter connections are just one of the many reasons people visit. The generosity of visitors, whatever their motivation to visit, helps to support Durham Cathedral and provide a sustainable future for the cathedral and its buildings.

The Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett, Dean of Durham says, “Durham Cathedral has been a place of welcome, worship and hospitality for almost one thousand years. We welcome hundreds of thousands visitors to the cathedral each year, many of whom visit as pilgrims and worshippers. As the Cathedral is part of the Durham UNESCO World Heritage Site we also welcome visitors of all faiths and none, who visit to explore this magnificent building and discover its rich history and heritage.

“Being featured as a filming location for the first and second films, the Harry Potter films are part of Durham Cathedral’s heritage. Marking the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone will encourage a new generation to visit Durham Cathedral and discover its spiritual, architectural and historical significance. With prayers every hour and three services a day, we welcome everyone as a visitor and hope that they leave as a pilgrim.”

Not only was Durham Cathedral used as a backdrop for scenes from the first two Harry Potter films, but objects in the Cathedral’s Collections were used as props in the films.

The inkwell which sits on Professor McGonagall’s desk in the first film was used by previous Chapter Clerks in the Cathedral’s office. Carved with wyverns and owls, it was the perfect addition to Professor McGonagall’s office. Professor McGonagall’s desk is also part of the Cathedral’s Collections and was used by Bishop Lightfoot in the 19th century.

For more information about visiting the cathedral and for details of the Chapter House opening on Saturday 20 November visit: www.durhamcathedral.co.uk/whatson

Durham Cathedral is a member of Culture Durham, the partnership spearheading County Durham’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2025. Museum of the Moon is a shining example of how the county seizes opportunities to create unforgettable experiences for its communities, utilising the latest technology to allow people to engage with culture and the arts in a truly immersive way. To find out more about the bid, visit www.durham2025.co.uk

Durham Magazine