If there was ever a good place to be a movie location scout, it would be the UK. Seriously, the possibilities are endless here. Crumbling fairytale castles – check. Windswept cliffs beside the sea – check. Famous monuments easily recognized by everyone on the planet – check. Charming villages in the countryside – triple check. (I mean, have you seen the Cotswolds?)
Given how much of the UK is naturally “camera-ready”, it’s really no surprise that a significant portion of all eight Harry Potter films were filmed outside the studio. From the highlands in Scotland to the colleges in Oxford and all the little towns in between, there are an abundance of Harry Potter filming locations to be discovered all over the UK.
While we were out for the day visiting Stonehenge and Avebury, we decided to make a special pit stop in nearby Lacock to check out the village whose streets and sights featured in at least three of the series’ films. We quickly discovered that while Lacock does, indeed, look like it was created specifically with the film industry in mind, there is more to this friendly small town than its attractive exterior.
From its storybook streets with a seemingly endless supply of picturesque English cottages to the beautiful historic abbey that sits on the outskirts of town, it’s not hard to see why Lacock has been used in the filming of so many movies, Harry Potter included.
Unexpectedly well-preserved for its age, Lacock played a pivotal role in England’s wool trade during the Middle Ages. These days, the majority of the village is owned by the National Trust to ensure it retains its classic English charm for generations to come. Lacock’s most visited historic attraction is Lacock Abbey, but the town also has a 14th century church (St Cyriac’s) worth popping into, and an old tithe barn built around the same time, both of which are free to enter.
History and half-timbered cottages aside, I believe my favorite part about visiting this town was being able to spend time in a place that appears fairly unaffected by tourism, despite its popularity with tourists. By that I mean, chain restaurants and souvenir shops haven’t entirely taken over; and meringues, jellies, and various other handmade goods are still sold via the honor system outside of people’s homes – just take whatever you like and leave money in the box, simple as that. On the day we visited, Lacock’s Boy Scouts were holding a fundraiser at the community center and we were kindly invited in for sausage and egg sandwiches. The whole village had such a warm and homey atmosphere, I just couldn’t help but fall in love with it.
But you came here to hear about Harry Potter locations in Lacock, so let’s move on before I spend another two paragraphs gushing about how lovely this town is.
Harry Potter Film Locations in Lacock
Wandering the main streets of Lacock, you’ll likely recognize them as one and the same as those making up the town of Budleigh Babberton in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Quick glimpses of Lacock’s streets are shown as Harry and Dumbledore make their way to and from the temporary home of Horace Slughorn at the beginning of the movie. A few other sights in town will look very familiar to fans as well…
The Home of Lily & James Potter
Located on Church Street, this lovely cottage stood in for the home of Lily and James Potter in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It features in the flashback scenes of the night Voldemort arrived in Godric’s Hollow and murdered Harry’s parents. Obviously, this place looks far more cheerful in real life than it appears in the movie, so you’ll have to try extra hard to imagine the menacing, cloaked figure of Voldemort opening the cottage’s wooden gate and making his way up to the house while you’re here.
Fun Fact: In later movies, an entirely different cottage was used for the Potters’ home in Godric’s Hollow. You’ll be able to see it in the backlot of the Warner Brothers Studio in London if you purchase a ticket for one of their tours.
Horace Slughorn’s Hideout
At the beginning of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Horace Slughorn is temporarily holed up in a home belonging to some unnamed muggles away on holiday in the town of Budleigh Babberton. The real-life counterpart to Slughorn’s hideout can be found on Chapel Hill in the center of Lacock. Just like with the Potters’ house, you’ll have to use your imagination to see it as gloomy as it appears in the movie, though, because it’s actually quite a beautiful home.
Sidenote: Dumbledore introducing Harry to Slughorn is one of my favorite scenes from this movie. I always find it so satisfying to watch Dumblebore put the house back together after Slughorn destroys it to keep the Death Eaters from discovering him. Anyone else love that part, too?
Lacock Abbey, aka Hogwarts
Lacock Abbey is one of many places across the UK used for the filming of scenes which took place within the series’ beloved Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Featuring primarily in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, visitors are allowed inside the abbey, but it’ll cost you a few galleons, £14 to be exact. (Tickets available here.)
Inside, several of Lacock Abbey’s rooms with high, sweeping ceilings and mysterious corners served as Hogwarts classrooms, including Professor Snape’s Potions classroom and Professor Quirrell’s Defense Against the Dark Arts class. The abbey’s elegant cloisters were transformed into corridors at Hogwarts for both of the first two movies as well, and if you drop by the Chapter House, you’ll recognize the room where Harry stumbled upon the Mirror of Erised for the first time.
Quintessential English village, small town vibes, and a handful of Harry Potter locations to discover – Lacock makes an excellent pit stop on a day trip from London. Have you ever traveled somewhere simply to see where one of your favorite movies was filmed?
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