Ultimate Harry Potter Guide to Gloucester
As the childhood home to J.K. Rowling, Gloucester boasts many connections to the Harry Potter series. Not only do the roots of the Potters and the Dursleys stem from this area, but filmmakers used historic Gloucester Cathedral as one of the Harry Potter filming locations for Hogwarts.
This ultimate Harry Potter guide to Gloucester explores everything you need to know to have a magical Harry Potter visit to Gloucester Cathedral. It also explores other links that the Gloucestershire area has to the Boy Who Lived, including the Forest of Dean Harry Potter filming location, Rowling’s association with the area, and inspiration that she derived from Gloucester for the writing of the Harry Potter series.
Harry Potter Guide to Gloucester Table of Contents
- Gloucester Cathedral Harry Potter Filming Location
- Magical Facts About Gloucester Cathedral Harry Potter Filming
- How to Visit Gloucester Cathedral
- Other Harry Potter Connections to Gloucestershire
Gloucester Cathedral Harry Potter Filming Location
The Gloucester Cathedral Cloisters provided interior shots for the hallways of Hogwarts during the filming of many of the Harry Potter films. The ornately carved historic medieval walkaways added an ancient appearance that Hogwarts is meant to have.
The main hallways appear generally as hallways for many important scenes in Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, and Half Blood Prince. The most recognizable scene for fans will be the discovery of a petrified Mrs. Norris in the second movie. Mrs. Norris hangs from one of the torches with the “enemies beware” message scrawled in blood on the wall as the professors interrogate Harry, Ron and Hermione about their involvement in the attack.
Additionally, the following scenes were shot in the Gloucester Cathedral Cloisters:
The far hallway of the Gloucester Cathedral Cloisters contains the Lavatorium, the communal washing area in a monastery. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, this Lavatorium marks the scene where Harry and Ron hide from the giant troll as they try to warn an upset Hermione about the troll.
Filmmakers created the troll using CGI, but used giant legs during filming to make the scene more realistic for the actors.
You can also find the door used as the entrance to the Gryffindor Common Room in the first movie inside Gloucester Cathedral’s Cloisters. At the end of the western side of the cloisters, a door appears on the right. This door is known as the West Slype door.
This door may look much larger than you’ll remember from the films. This is because filmmakers made the door seem smaller by adding a plastic mould over it before adding the portrait of the Fat Lady over it.
Unfortunately, you’ll see neither the Fat Lady, nor the Gryffindor Common Room here (these are housed at the Warner Brother Studio tour outside London). Don’t let this stop you from pretending to step into the house of the brave and courageous by popping through the West Slype door.
Harry Potter Scenes Filmed at Gloucester Cathedral Cloisters
- In Sorcerer’s Stone, Percy Weasley guides the first years from the welcome feast up to the portrait of the Fat Lady. in this scene the Fat Lady sits over the West Slype door in the Gloucester Cathedral Cloisters.
- At the Halloween feast in Sorcerer’s Stone, a troll is found wandering the school. Harry and Ron go to try and warn Hermione and see the troll sluggishly walking through the Gloucester Cathedral Cloisters as they hide behind the pillars in the Lavatorium.
- In one of the deleted scenes from Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry, Hermione and Ron solidify their friendship after defeating the troll. The hallways they are walking through are the hallways of the Gloucester Cathedral Cloisters.
- In Chamber of Secrets, Harry, Ron and Hermione find a petrified Mrs. Norrris hanging upside down in front of a message the famous “enemies of the heir beware” message behind her. The stained glass windows from the cloisters appear directly behind the trio. The ensuing scene continues in the same location in Gloucester Cathedral.
- In Chamber of Secrets, Harry and Ron discover flooding outside Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. The hallways that lead to the bathroom are actually the hallways in the Gloucester Cathedral Cloisters.
- Towards the end of Chamber of Secrets, Harry and Ron eavesdrop on the professors discussing a plan of action in the halls of Gloucester Cathedral Cloisters after finding the message scrawled on the wall in blood proclaiming Ginny has been taken into the chamber where “her skeleton will lie forever.”
- In Half Blood Prince, Harry and Ron stand over the students rushing to class in what they think is a free period. Professor McGonagall comes over and quickly changes that, sending them both to Potions with Professor Slughorn.
- In Half Blood Prince, Harry overhears Snape and Malfoy discussing the unbreakable vow that Snape made to help him in his task from Voldemort.
Magical Facts About Gloucester Cathedral Harry Potter Filming
To bring Hogwarts to life in the hallways of Gloucester Cathedral, Harry Potter filmmakers employed their own sort of magic to transform the historic church into the school of witchcraft and wizardry .
Traces of Modernity and Religion were Hidden
Since its founding in the medieval times, little change occurred at Hogwarts. Because of magic, modern innovations like electricity did not exist at the school. To get Gloucester Cathedral more in line with these aspects of Hogwarts, Harry Potter set designers painstakingly removed any traces of modernity in the Cloisters.
They disguised signs of electricity and locks as stone walls. Additionally, they created special gas-fired torches that wouldn’t harm the cathedral’s stonework and promoted the ancient appearance that the halls of Hogwarts are known for.
Given its position as a school of witchcraft and wizardry, filmmakers also had to hide any elements that made the hallways look like a church. The beautiful stained glass that lines parts of the cloisters was carefully covered with plastic paper designed to look like class in order to cover up the haloes in some of the religious scene. They also used it to turn Adam and Eve into a wizard and witch, even giving them each a Harry Potter-style lightning bolt scar on their foreheads.
Set designers also hid the nearly 100 tombstones that line the floors of the cloisters for filming of the Harry Potter films. To do this, they covered the floor with roof felt painted and varnished to look like the rest of the flooring in the Gloucester Cathedral Cloisters.
Enemies of the Heir Beware
Many of the scenes from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets were shot in the Gloucester Cathedral Cloisters. The discovery of the petrified Mrs. Norris took place at the cathedral. For this scene, the message “The Chamber of Secrets has been opened, enemies of the heir BEWARE” is written on the walls in blood.
Obviously filmmakers couldn’t paint the walls of the actual cathedral. Instead, they recreated the walls in their studio to look just like those in the Gloucester Cathedral Cloisters and painted the message onto that wall instead.
In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry and Ron walk down the hallway to find flooding pouring out of Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. Filmmakers actually shot this scene, flooding included, inside Gloucester Cathedral’s Cloisters. The red door at the northeastern corner of these hallways marks the Dark Entry, where the water streams out of in the film.
To give the appearance of flooding, set designers created a special container to fill with water instead of adding water to the floors of the historic cathedral. A water tanker pumped water into the container that then drained into the Cloister Courtyard.
Peeves the Poltergeist
Readers of the Harry Potter books all know one of Hogwarts’ quirkiest and most troublesome residents didn’t make it in the films. Peeves is a poltergeist that has inhabited Hogwarts, making the life of each and every one of its caretakers (and often students) a living nightmare.
Filmmakers did initially introduce Peeves in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The scene was shot in Gloucester Cathedral as Peeves sent a bunch of broomsticks flying through the East Cloister walk. However, filmmakers ended up cutting the scene to bring down the length of the final film.
How to Visit Gloucester Cathedral
When to visit Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedrals welcomes visitors through its doors 365 days a year so it can be visited any time of the year. On average, Gloucester Cathedral opens from 7:30am to 6:00pm.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. During the UK school year, it closes from 8:45am to 9:15am on weekdays for Kings College school assembly. Because of this, I would recommend planning your visit for 9:30 onwards. On Sundays, the best times to visit are between 11:45am and 2:45pm when cathedral volunteers are on hand to answer questions.
Visit the Gloucester Cathedral website for more information on Gloucester Cathedral opening times.
Cost of Visiting Gloucester Cathedral
Officially, there is no cost to visit Gloucester Cathedral. Volunteers may strongly push donations when you enter, but unless you’re looking to buy a guide or take a tour of the grounds, you do not have to pay to enter Gloucester Cathedral.
How to get to Gloucester Cathedral
The historic Gloucester Cathedral stands tall at the center of the city of Gloucester in Western England. The cathedral is just a 10 minute walk from the Gloucester train station. Signs throughout the town direct visitors to the cathedral’s location.
As a common stopping place along the Great Western Railway, visiting Gloucester Cathedral can be done as a Harry Potter day trip from London or you can combine it as a larger tour of the Cotswolds area and combine it with other Harry Potter filming locations in Lacock and Oxford.
Other Harry Potter Connections to Gloucestershire
In addition to the filming of Harry Potter at Gloucester Cathedral, the Gloucestershire area boasts many other connections to the Harry Potter series.
Forest of Dean Harry Potter Filming Location
The ancient trees of the Forest of Dean stand just a 30 minute drive outside of the city of Gloucester. These woods set the scene for many films throughout the years, including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In both the film and the book, Harry and Hermione camp out in the Forest of Dean during their search for horcruxes.
The Forest of Dean Harry Potter filming location is the place where Harry dives into the frozen lake to grab the conveniently dropped sword of Gryffindor. Ron arrives just in time to save Harry and the pair destroy one more of Voldemort’s horcruxes.
How to Visit the Forest of Dean
The easiest way to visit the Forest of Dean is by driving. To get to the Forest of Dean from Gloucester, take the A48 out of town and follow it until you arrive.
A bus also runs from Gloucester to the Forest of Dean Harry Potter filming location. This takes about an hour from start to finish. You’ll want to take the 30 bus from the Transport Hub just outside of the Gloucester Rail Station. Ride the bus until it comes to the Speech House bus stop. From that point, you then walk about 15 minutes to enter the Forest of Dean.
Birthplace of J.K. Rowling
The brilliant magical mind behind Harry Potter originally came from Gloucestershire. J.K. Rowling was born at Yate General Hospital just outside of Bristol on July 31st, 1965. Fun Fact: Rowling shares her birthday with Harry Potter!
The Original Potter Grew Up in Gloucester
Rowling spent most of her childhood in the small town of Winterbourne, in between Gloucster and Bristol. Here she met the name inspiration for the Boy Who Lived himself. Rowling and her sister played with a brother and sister on the same block whose last name was Potter. The name always stuck with her, and when she began writing the beginnings of the magical wizarding world, she decided to use it as Harry’s last name.
Ancestral Home of the Potter Family
The origins of the famous wizarding family of Potter start in the Gloucestershire village of Stinchcombe. According to Pottermore, the Potter ancestry dates back to the 12th century when an eccentric wizard named Litchfield earned the nickname of “the Potterer.” Much beloved in the village, he provided magical remedies for the muggles in the village and developed the basis of magical medicine.
Eventually the name “Potterer” shortened to Potter and the family continued to live in the western England for centuries. In fact, it’s believed that the wizard village of Godric’s Hollow (birthplace of Harry Potter and childhood home of Albus Dumbledore) is located in Gloucestershire.
Naming of the Dursleys
Did you know there’s a town in Gloucestershire called Dursley? This little-known town inspired the naming of Harry’s infamous relatives – the Dursleys. Harry’s Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia owe their last name to this western England town just 15 miles south of Gloucester.
Visit Other Harry Potter Locations in the UK
- Wander around more of Hogwarts at Lacock Abbey or Durham Cathedral
- Learn how to ride a broomstick at Alnwick Castle
- Every Harry Potter location to visit in London
- Visit Dobby’s Grave at Freshwater West
- Take a Harry Potter walk at Malham Cove
- Explore Harry Potter inspiration in Edinburgh
- Ride the Hogwarts Express in Scotland
- Set off on a magical road trip of Harry Potter filming locations in Scotland