#letthecultureshine: The Idea of the Brain – with Professor Matthew Cobb

Advertisement

A Tour of Oxford’s Filming Locations

Harry Lawford

With its majestic arched buildings and spires, Oxford has one of the most iconic visual identities in the UK. It’s unsurprising then that Oxford's beautiful architecture and dreamy surroundings have been featured in many well-known films and television shows. Here is a quick tour of where to look to spot all those screen locations you know and love.

Harry Potter
 
As every resident and tour guide will tell you, Oxford is about as close to Hogwarts as you’re going to get.  Tucked away inside the Oxford colleges are a number of locations used in the films. The dining hall in Christ Church College and the steps leading to it, for instance, were used in The Philosopher’s Stone. Harry also walks through the cloisters of New College in the Goblet of Fire; and Harry, Ron and Hermione conspire in the Hogwarts library, otherwise known as Duke Humphrey’s Medieval Library in the beautiful Bodleian. Oxford more generally was a great source of inspiration for the film’s producers. They spent time in the Museum of Natural History researching artefacts that were then recreated for the films, whilst The Pitt Rivers Museum was also said to be an inspiration (perhaps confirmed by the appearance of the shrunken heads, the Pitt River’s prized exhibit, in the Prisoner of Azkaban).

Steps up to Christ Church dining hall. photo: Veggiefrog
Photo Credit: Veggiefrog
 
Inspector Morse
 
Colin Dexter’s classic murder mystery novels following the world-weary Inspector Morse and his partner in crime (solving) Lewis are one of the most famous things about Oxford, and it’s been so popular that the original TV show has inspired spinoffs Lewis and Endeavour, also set within the city’s confines. The list of filming locations are exhaustive, but particular places of interest are Exeter College, where Morse collapses from a heart attack in The Remorseful Day, Radcliffe square which features in many episodes, and some of the city’s pubs, such as The Bear, Lamb and Flag and The White Horse, where Morse would often sit and deliberate cases.
 
The Golden Compass
 
Former Oxford student Phillip Pullman’s fantasy series His Dark Materials is an enchanting exploration of an Oxford in a parallel universe. Heroine Lara lives in an Oxford college alongside her daemon Pantalaimon whilst the world is dominated by the mysterious and restrictive Magisterium Church. You’ll be able to spot a number of locations used in the film adaptation of The Golden Compass in Oxford, including Exeter College, where Lyra saves Lord Asriel’s life, Queens College and Christ Church Meadow, where Lyra, Roger and the Gyptians play at the beginning of the film.                                 
 
X-Men: First Class
 
Oxford has had witches and wizards – and now superheroes too. X-Men is a hugely popular franchise that follows a group of mixed ability mutants. One of the central characters in the film, Professor Charles Xavier graduates from the University of Oxford at the start of the film. Interestingly the Oxford pub he visits The Eagle doesn’t actually exist, but you’ll also be able to spot The Bridge of Sighs outside the pub and the building used in his graduation scenes, the Sheldonian Theatre.

Bridge of Sighs, Oxford
Photo Credit: Joanna Penn
 
Brideshead Revisited
 
Evelyn Waugh’s elaborate story follows the romances and adventures of Charles Ryder in the beautiful English countryside. The 2008 film adaptation depicts Charles at Oxford University, where he stands below the Radcliffe Camera and glimpses his lover Sebastian at Magdalen College. Sebastian himself is said to attend the most grandiose looking Oxford College Christ Church, whilst Charles attends the slightly more modest Merton College. Both were in fact filmed in Lincoln College.
 
Transformers: The Last Knight
 
The idea of an army of giant robots taking to Oxford’s quaint cobbled streets might seem ridiculous, but some scenes from the upcoming film Transformers: The Last Knight were actually filmed in Oxford. Not much is known yet, but there are said to be scenes filmed on Catte Street, Turl Street, Holywell Street and New College Lane.
Advertisement
Advertisement