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Harry Potter - Gloucester Cathedral Tour

How Gloucester Cathedral became Hogwarts School

Gloucester Cathedral

1000 years ago, Gloucester Cathedral was the home of monks. It was called St Peter's Abbey. Imagine how amazed the monks would be if they knew their hallowed cloisters are now recognised worldwide as a school for wizards - and all because of a boy called Harry Potter!
Our cloisters were chosen because they resemble the old and eccentric school of wizards and witchcraft as envisaged by the author JK Rowling.

Click on any picture for a bigger image.

1 - The Magic Box
Even though Gloucester has the right atmosphere for Hogwarts, almost every detail was changed for the film. All the modern keyholes and locks had to be painted out and signs removed. Just inside the door, see if you can spot the 'stone' box made by the film crew to cover the light switches.

Gloucester Cathedral

Turn left. Walk along the cloisters. You are following in the footsteps of Harry, Ron and Hermione on their first evening at Hogwarts. The Sorting Hat has put them all into Gryffindor: straight ahead of you is the door to the Common Room.

2 - The Fat Lady
You are now at the entrance to the West Slype (a narrow passage). This was used as the entrance to Gryffindor Common Room - but in the film it looks very different. The carpenters made the opening smaller, with a narrow door - and on the door was the painting of the Fat Lady, who asked for the password.
When the door swung open, the passage to the Common Room appeared. The carpenter covered the real steps with a false floor, on stilts, and sloping upwards. At the end of the passage was a huge photo of the inside of the Common Room. Lit from the back (a device called a 'translight'), and with clever use of perspective, it looked like the real thing.

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Turn right. Now you are on the trail of...

3 - The Troll
When Ron and Harry first see the Troll, he is walking along here. He is heading for that window - which is the door to the girls' toilets in the film, where Hermione is crying.

Gloucester Cathedral

When you get to the end, turn right.

This is the place where the monks used to wash - the Lavatorium. In the film it's where Harry and Ron hide.
The Troll was HUGE! He was made at the film studio, then transported here (in great secrecy), and carried, with difficulty, through the main door of the Cathedral. He only just fitted - even though only his BOTTOM HALF had been made! The Troll you see walking is computer-generated, but the 'real' legs were used in close-up to be more realistic.

Gloucester Cathedral  Gloucester Cathedral

Now carry straight on to the end of the corridor.

4 - A petrified cat - and spiders!
In this corner, a lot happens in the second film - The Chamber of Secrets.
On the wall ahead of you appear the two messages written in blood - 'The Chamber of Secrets has been opened! Enemies of the Heir beware!' and 'Her skeleton will lie in the Chamber for ever.'

Gloucester Cathedral

The first time we see the little spiders, they emerge from the wall just here, and disappear through the window opposite.

Gloucester Cathedral

Mrs Norris, Filch's petrified cat, was hung from a hook here too. The petrified cat was a model, with electronic moving parts, and a very realistic mouth - though that bit isn't used in the film!
Lots of the main actors were filmed on this spot for the scene with the petrified cat - Professor Dumbledore (Richard Harris), Professor McGonagall (Dame Maggie Smith), Snape (Alan Rickman), Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh), Filch (David Bradley), and Madam Sprout (Miriam Margolyes) as well as Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Ron (Rupert Grint).

5 - The Flood
In the second film there is a shot of the flood from the girls' toilets where Moaning Myrtle lives. (These are not the same toilets in the first film, where the Troll smashes all the cubicles.)
There is a very short scene (5 seconds!) showing this part of the cloisters flooded. To get this effect, the crew did a lot of work... on the floor, you can still see the marks from where they built a false floor - the new wooden struts got wet, and left marks on the stone!
This new floor held the water for the flood. It stretched from this corner almost the whole length of this part of the cloister. A water tanker was parked in the road outside, and water pumped constantly from it to create the water movement you see. It all drained away through the door into the garden at the end.

Gloucester Cathedral

Now walk along this corridor.

6 - The Wrong Doors
The first doors on your left used to be painted magnolia. They looked so good after being made to look old, it was decided to keep them that way.

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7
The doors to the Chapter House were removed completely, and replaced with a small door, plus new steps and walls. In The Chamber of Secrets this was used as part of the staircase on the way to Gryffindor Common Room.

Gloucester Cathedral

Now turn right through the opening into the garden (it's called The Garth).

8 - Looking for Hermione
When the school hears about the Troll (in The Philosopher's Stone), Dumbledore sends all the young wizards back to their dormitories. They are hurrying through the door opposite where you are standing now when Harry and Ron suddenly realise Hermione is in danger and run back to look for her.

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9
If you look carefully in the shot - which was filmed at night - you will see a carving of a man's face behind them - it's the little gargoyle to the right of the door: Dean Kenneth Jennings who retired in 1996!

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© Gloucester Cathedral 2005