I’m on a HUGE mission to visit every single Harry Potter filming location in existence. It’s a task that will take me from the beaches of Pembrokeshire to English National Parks and the Cliffs of Moher… But for now, I’m sticking with the English filming locations. Next on the list is the Harry Potter filming locations at Durham Cathedral!
And a cheeky Harry Potter film location at York Train Station en route that no other guide will tell you about. Aren’t you lucky!
The first two films (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)) shot at Durham Cathedral. Durham’s beautiful 1st century (yes, 1st century!) Cathedral stood in for Hogwarts around the same time production shot at other northeast locations like Alnwick Castle and Goathland Station. And if you’re a true Potterhead and you want to visit all the Harry Potter filming locations at Durham Cathedral… There’s only one week a year you can do so!
Curious? Then let’s dive into my Harry Potter locations guide to Durham Cathedral including how to get there and exactly where the filming locations are.
Harry Potter Filming Locations at Durham Cathedral
How to get to Durham Cathedral
Travel by Train
Travelling to Durham Cathedral via train is hands down the best way to do so. Not just because it’s very convenient to visit most English cities by public transport, but because train travel is the easiest way to visit a bonus HP filming location in York I will discuss later!
Durham train station is well connected from London (three hours), Manchester and Edinburgh (two hours). I found a route from Manchester with a connection in York so I could visit two Harry Potter locations in one day trip. Trainline is the most user-friendly service to find and book train tickets (especially with the app) though I’m not a fan of the booking fee.
It only takes 14 minutes to walk from Durham station to Durham Cathedral and it’s such a lovely city, the walk will fly by! I use Google Maps to navigate everywhere.
Travel by Car and Car Parks in Durham
One big reason I don’t recommend driving to Durham Cathedral is the congestion charge once you enter the city centre. However, Durham does operate a park and ride service. So, that means you can park just outside the city centre and take a free bus to town from the car park. From where you’re dropped off, you can catch the free hop-on-hop-off Cathedral bus if you don’t want to walk to the Cathedral.
These are the car parks offering the park and ride service from Monday-Saturday, 7:00-19:00 excluding bank holidays:
- Belmont car park – DH1 1SR
- Sniperley car park – DH1 5RA
- Howlands car park – DH1 3TQ
Check out the Durham Cathedral website for more up to date travel information.
Where are the Harry Potter Filming Locations at Durham Cathedral?
The Cloister is made up several rooms leading off a covered walkway around a small, square courtyard.
In Philosopher’s Stone, this is where Harry lets Hedwig stretch her wings and fly away over the castle during a very snowy winter. The students often stroll through the covered walkway, too.
In Chamber of Secrets, this is where Harry and Hermione confront Hagrid (one of the times, anyway) and where Ron tells Malfoy to ‘eat slugs’ after he verbally attacks Hermione.
It’s really a gorgeous part of the Cathedral. I spent ages just taking so many different photographs from different angles and walking round and round! And you might think that The Cloisters feature in the Harry Potter films way more than just a few scenes because so many other Cathedrals/Castles/etc. have stood in for this particular part of Hogwarts over the films. The scenes are shot in different places and they seem so similar, we’ve just not realised!
The Chapter House: Open for only ONE week a year!
This is the Harry Potter filming location at Durham Cathedral where I really get my geek on.
The Chapter House is only open during Durham’s Heritage Week, which is usually held in September every year. The Chapter House is used daily by the staff that work there so it’s closed to the public, but this is one small window of opportunity to see this very special room.
So which Harry Potter scenes were filmed in the Chapter House?! Well, it’s McGonagall’s classroom for the first two films!
In Philosopher’s Stone, Ron and Harry are late to class and witness McGonagall transform from her animagus form, which is a cat to her usual self.
And in Chamber of Secrets, McGonagall teaches the second years to turn animals into water goblets and reluctantly explains the history behind the chamber of secrets.
I’ll admit, the room (which is just off The Cloister) is a little disappointing to see in real life as it was set up for talks so you can’t really imagine Professor McGonagall teaching in a room filled with brown chairs and a projector screen. But it was still fantastic to see it in real life and I’m so glad I made the effort to visit Durham Cathedral during Heritage Week!
Visiting Durham Cathedral: Price and Opening Times
Visiting the Durham Cathedral is completely free (even during Heritage Week), but I paid the suggested donation of £3. It’s such a beautiful Cathedral and it takes a lot of money to run a place like that. They even have contactless donation points so you can donate with your credit/debit card!
Visiting times are generally 10:00-18:00 Monday to Saturday and until 17:30 on Sundays. I’d be mindful about visiting on Sundays because of services. And, if you are visiting during Heritage Week to see The Chapter House, please note The Chapter House was closed on the Sunday of this week and open from 10:00-16:00 the rest of the time.
Check out Durham Cathedral’s website for up to date visitor information.
BONUS: Harry Potter Filming Locations at York Train Station
This is a Harry Potter filming location most people don’t know about!
In Philosopher’s Stone, there is a scene on a bridge at King’s Cross station where Hagrid gives Harry his Hogwarts Express ticket. The strange platform number confuses Harry. But when he looks around to find Hagrid, he’s vanished!
King’s Cross station is the location of the platform/barrier entrance scene as you would expect. But this particular bridge scene was filmed at York train station! Pretty clever, eh? It looks a little different than it does in the film but I put that down to a) CGI/camera trickery and b) the film is 20 years old!
The bridge is basically the only one in York train station and it’s super easy to find.
If you’re travelling to Durham by train, it’s definitely worth planning a journey with a connection at York station in my opinion.
And that’s everything you need to know about visiting the Harry Potter filming locations at Durham Cathedral and York train station! Have you visited Durham Cathedral? Let me know in the comments below!