When I started writing the ‘Expetco Patronum’ mini series I thought it will have two parts. But then I recognized that there are so many Harry Potter related things to discover in the UK. Thanks to Alexander’s colleague Tom we were able to experience beeing Harry and Ginny (or probably more realistic: Ron and Hermione – just because Harry and Ginny are very sporty…) for one evening.
Tom currently studies at the Christ Church College at Oxford University and he and his wife Courtney were so incredibly fantastic to invite us to have dinner with them in the Great Hall of Christ Church College – the place which inspired the Harry Potter movie makers for recreating the Great Hall of Hogwarts in their studios.
But the Great Hall is not the only Harry Potter sight in Oxford – so let’s start at the beginning of this wonderful Saturday…
Our Oxford experience started at the Museum of Natural History. No scene of the movies was filmed there but it is where the producers sourced a lot of their ideas for ancient artefacts when recreating these with the costumes department (for example for the Knight Bus).
Afterwards we decided to have a tour through Oxford. Look first, who’ve we met on our way:
Unfortunately it was – what we would call – a typical English tour. As proper Germans we like a tour very very structured: start with the basics about the town like founding date, then go to the most important places and tell something about these (one after another) and finish with something about the present days. But this is not what most English guided tours look like. Here it seems that the guide expects you to know all the basic stuff. His or her task is just to show you a lot of – unconnected – bits and pieces and explain not really anything but the own opinion (no facts). But what we’ve learned is that the Bodleian Library was an important location for the movies as it was used as Hogwarts infirmary and where the students were teached to dance in the fourth movie.
We’ve seen so many other sights and visited some colleges during the tour but as Christ Church College was the most impressive one I’d like to jump directly to this section.
This is the view into Christ Church College and its big patio. Although there are many many very modern colleges in Oxford this is one of the more traditional and old ones. It really feels like entering medieval times. I wouldn’t have been too surprised meeting Queen Elizabeth I there. As nearly all corridors, doors and spaces still look like from the 16th century it felt more surprising that there were modern toilets in the building.
But this surprise was outshined by the chance to feel like a first year’s Hogwarts student walking up the stairs to the Great Hall where the Sorting Hat fullfills his duties:
And then – after some pints with Tom and Courtney in a local and famous old pub – we had the longingly expected dinner in the Great Hall:
And it was more amazing than thought. Long wooden tables in three rows (not four, probably Christ Church College has no Slytherins) and another table at the head end of the room for the teaching staff. As Christ Church College obviously does not employ house elfs ‘real’ kitchen staff bought the food – but in such a fast manner that it could have been by house elfs. Okay, the quality of the food was more canteen like but it was still so exciting that they could have given us oat meal and we wouldn’t have regognized that.
I forgot to take a picture of the dessert – it was a very ‘british’ doughnut 😉
As the dinner was a common procedure for the real students the hall emptied after about one hour. But we could’t leave – until the cleaning staff made it quite clear that we should go now by nearly sweeping us into their buckets.
And luckily there was a bit time left for another photo shoot in front of the hall where Tom was so kind to lend me his college cloak. Now I felt really student like…
Regarding this cloak: if you are a student of Christ Church College you have to wear your cloak/ cape at dinners and other kind of events. There are different cloaks for bachelor and post-graduate students so you always know the seniority of the others. But this official clothing doesn’t discourage some students to wear some sweatpants and jogging shoes under their cape.
All in all it was a thrilling and great experience – with or without the Harry Potter connection. To be honest: I was a tiny tiny bit wistful that with going back earlier to Germany that there won’t be the chance anymore to be an Oxford student. But then I decided that it’s so much more ‘grown-up’ to spend all these tons of money for a new kitchen…