Monday, 4 April 2016

C is for Durham Cathedral and Castle

Once again this will be long and photo-heavy, but worth it (I hope!).

The A to Z Tour of Harry Potter Film Locations takes us back up north to Durham City in County Durham.  Today's C is the Cathedral and Castle.
Not too far south of Alnwick ('A') is the historic city of Durham.  The city sits on the banks of the River Wear and is built on seven different hills (or so it is claimed).  Atop the tallest hill are the rather impressive Castle and Cathedral, separated by the Palace Green. Both the Castle and Cathedral are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Durham Cathedral is a Norman building constructed between 1093 and 1133.  It was originally built to house the shrine of St Cuthbert.  The Cathedral is still a place of active worship, with regular services occurring throughout the week.  Having visited quite a number of cathedrals across the UK, I have to say that the one in Durham is one of the more impressive ones and worth a visit even if you are not a Potter-fan.  I know I said that about Alnwick Castle.  I'll probably say it again many times.  I'm not sorry.

For those of you who are Potter fans, however, there is plenty to see as the Cathedral appeared in the first two Harry Potter films as both corridors and courtyards.  

The cloisters at Durham Cathedral

The cloisters at the Cathedral appeared in both The Philosopher's Stone and The Chamber of Secrets as walkways linking classrooms and the courtyard.  The cloisters in Durham weren't the only ones used in the film (we'll get to those later in the alphabet) and it can be a little difficult to pick them out due to set dressings and some digitally altered sections.  Most notably, Durham Cathedral's cloisters appeared in The Philosopher's Stone as the trio returned from meeting Hagrid's dragon; and in The Chamber of Secrets during Quidditch practice, and when Harry freed Dobby.  In this later scene, a second row of windows were digitally added.

The cloister courtyard

The cloisters at the Cathedral surround a central green courtyard.  This courtyard, with its iconic well, was seen in The Philosopher's Stone when Harry takes Hedwig out in the snow; and in The Chamber of Secrets both when Ron tells Malfoy to "eat slugs" and again when Neville tells Harry the dorm room has been ransacked. 

Cathedral Chapter House
Also featured in the film is the Chapter House, which is used as McGonagall's classroom and office in The Philosopher's Stone and The Chamber of Secrets.  Unfortunately you are not able to visit the Chapter House as it is used for offices and meeting rooms by the Cathedral.  A peek through the window is about as much as you'll get.

On to Durham Castle

Built in the 11th century, Durham Castle has been occupied by the University of Durham since 1840. Students live within the keep, and the Great Hall serves meals to both staff and students.  The University library, offices, common room and chapel are also housed within the Castle.  The Castle is open for tours at set times (it's a working building after all!).  During University holidays, the Castle is available for conferences and general holiday accommodation.

That's right - you can stay in a castle and live out your own Harry Potter fantasies.  I did.  It was amazing.  The room was basic but clean (typical uni digs, in my opinion).  I stayed in the Keep in a room overlooking the Cathedral, and I ate breakfast in the Great Hall.  One of those real-life Potter experiences. I'm rather envious of the students who get to live there full time.

Happy travels,

Ros

P.S. Over at my other blog Fangirl Stitches, I'm cross stitching both a Supernatural and Pokémon alphabet for the challenge.  Please stop by and check out my progress.  C is for Charizard (Pokemon) and Castiel (Supernatural)

13 comments:

  1. Its nice to see that the castle is being used and not left for decay or ruin! What a wonderful adventure for you having stayed there for a night!

    betty

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    1. I did like the way they repurposed it rather than just turning it into another site for tourists

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  2. What a great adventure you went on Roslyn How long did it take you to visit all of these places?

    Linda

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    1. She lived in the UK for just over 2 years. Visiting HP sites formed the basis for her touring the UK. As she said, there is just so much to see. You had to pick something to base your visits on. I blame myself for the obsession. Not only did I buy the first HP books for the family to read, I gave her a HP tour of London for her first birthday over there. (I'm her mum)

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    2. What she said :) Lots of weekend drives, and three big (as in 1-2 week) trips around various locations.

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  3. Oooh, I was wondering where they filmed the cloisters scenes :) Thanks!

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    The Multicolored Diary
    MopDog

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    1. There were a couple of other cathedrals/abbeys used too - more on them to come!

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  4. It is so neat that you got to stay here and eat in the Great Hall! The nostalgia must have been overwhelming :)

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    1. It was pretty cool :) Certainly one I've recommended to a few friends (providing their travels coincide with uni holidays of course)

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  5. They had such great sets. I'm jealous that you've seen so many!

    Chelsea @ Books for Thought

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    1. The sets were amazing weren't they?! It took about 2 years to visit most of the places, although there were a few I missed out due to time constraints of the location themselves or sheer remoteness.

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  6. A brilliant theme for the challenge. I love HP and to combine that with travelling is a great idea! Wilbur from Wilbur's Travels.

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    1. Thanks :) It gave me the drive a motivation to get out and explore the countryside

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