We recently decided to devise our own DIY Harry Potter tour of London! We planned seeing actual locations, places and things that directly inspired the stories, and even a cocktail menu and exhibition both celebrating 20 years of wizarding wonder.
Start: Millennium Bridge (Southwark)
We started our DIY HP tour at the Millennium Bridge. The accidentally wobbly bridge(that was quickly repaired after initial walkers got an unpleasant surprise!) was famed in Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince for being Destroyed by the Death Eaters.
Westminster Tube Station (Westminster)
Westminster is one of the main travel locations used by Harry in the Order of the phoenix particularly on his way to on the way to the ministry of magic. An iconic location, it’s close to the houses of parliament, the London eye, and of course westminster abbey. Bit of a sightseer that Potter.
Australia House, The Strand (Temple)
This is absolutely one of my favourite locations we visited on this HP themed date day. Australia House on The Strand is in fact the entrance(and interior, although we couldn’t bloody get in to see it!) to Gringotts Wizarding bank! I now can’t help but walk past and imagine what’s going on inside down in the vaults…
Leadenhall Market (Liverpool Street)
Leadenhall market, nestled amongst skyscrapers deep in the city, the historic victorian market was actually used as Diagon Alley in Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone, and inside the market is the acual entrance to the wizard’s pub The Leaky Cauldron!
I must now mention what happened at this point in our tour. Near Leadenhall Market is a wetherspoon pub called the Crosse Keys, formerly a bank of England building. Now on our tour today we were joined by out friends and fellow Potter nerds Lee and Hollie. Now at a wetherspoon pub you can use an app to enter the pub, your table number, and order drinks to your table, and as it was Lee’s birthday weekend, some of us decided to tweet where we were and see what happened. I can highly recommend doing this, as the vast selection of ridiculous surprise drinks that followed was AMAZING. Anyway, back to the tour…
Primark Oxford Circus East (Tottenham Court Road)
So we made this pitstop for one reason only, primark have started producing a huge range of Potter and Hogwarts official merchandise! We did attempt to make a few purchases, but the queues were so vast we decided to press in with o ur magical sightseeing tour.
British Museum (TCR/Holborn)
The British Museum, aside from being one of our absolute favourite places in the world, houses the Lewis Chessmen. These are carved chess pieces thought to originate from Norway some time in the 12th century. They are the direct influence for the wizards chess pieces that Harry and Ron play chess with in Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone. There is also a hidden door in the BM which although it is not featured in the movies, is just rather magical and somehwhat potter-esque.
House of Mina Lima – Greek Street (Piccadilly Circus)
This place in the heart of soho is a shop and exhibition for the graphic art of Harry Potter, and it is an incredible place! Spread over four floors of beautiful, recognisable designs from the graphic art of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them films. You can buy limited edition books, postcards, prints, and even signed pieces of art(yes some of them are eye-wateringly expensive, but they really are incredible pieces that any potter fan would be incredibly proud to have in their home!). http://store.minalima.com/house-of-minalima/
Cecil Court (Leicester Square)
We touched on diagon alley earlier in the tour with our stop off at Leadenhall market, but the real and direct inspiration for the place is here on Cecil Court. The majority of the shop fronts on this street haven’t changed for over 100 years, and it truly does have a magical feel about it. A large number of the shops specialise in antique books and there are some truly amazing ones to be found. If you look carefully, you can find signed first editions of some of the Harry Potter series! They were well out of our price range sadly, but being able to hold a copy and have a look at a signed original was very cool indeed.
Kings Cross Outside (Kings Cross)
Remember that scene with Ron driving the flying car over London in The Chamber of Secrets film? Well the beautiful, intricate red prick building they fly over is Jess’s favourite building in London The Renaissance Hotel at Kings Cross station(The first of three Kings Cross related Potter stops to end the tour).
Kings Cross Platform 9 ¾ (Kings Cross)
I mean, this one is quite self-explanatory! The actual “entrance’ to platform 9 3/4 inside Kings Cross station. You can even queue up(be warned, it is seemingly always busy!) and get your photo taken holding onto the handle of Harry’s trolley and wearing a Hogwarts scarf.
British Library Exhibition (Kings Cross)
The Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition is a truly phenomenal exhibition for any potter fan and celebrates the 20th anniversary of the first Potter publication. It’s a wonderfully curated walk through of the history of magic both inside and outside the Harry Potter world. The Library unveil rare books and other magical objects from the British Library’s collection looking at folklore and magic and it’s influence and connection with the HP series. A real highlight is seeing original sketches, drafts and conceptual artwork by both JK Rowling herself and her illustrator Jim Kay. The exhibition closes Feb 28th 2018, book your tickets here – https://www.bl.uk/events/harry-potter-a-history-of-magic
Finish: Harry Potter cocktails at the Renaissance St Pancras
Lastly, as we often do we finish out date day with some cocktails, and to coincide with the British Library exhibition, the stunning Renaissance hotel. I must point out here that the service at the renaissance was absolutely superb, they knew we were in somewhat of a rush and went above and beyond to get a table for us and advise us on the delicious cocktails. They have devised a menu of HP themed cocktails, or Elixirs and Potions as they have named them. I went for the Tee-Hee, a concoction made of Rye-Whiskey, bitters and absinthe, and Jess went for the Butterscotch Brew(how could one of us not!), surprisingly it actually came as a hot drink made up of spiced rum, butter, salted caramel syrup, and butterscotch angel delight to make up the fake head of the “butterbeer”. Both were absolutely delicious, and you can check out the rest of the menu and all the info here – http://www.stpancraslondon.com/media/3457/elixirs-and-potions-v9.pdf
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