The Making of Harry Potter

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The Making of Harry Potter
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Image by Dave Catchpole
Warner Bros Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter
Warner Bros Studio, Aerodrome Way, Leavesden, Watford, Herts, WD25 7LS

A great day out for every fan of the boy wizard.

The Making of Harry Potter studio tour, covering 150,000 square foot, on two soundstages opened on the 31st March 2012, with stars galore at the red carpet launch at the Leavesden Studios where all eight movies were produced.

The home for many film productions, including several James Bond features, before a relatively new production company arrived there to make a film about a young boy who on his 11th birthday discovers he is a wizard.

Over the next ten years, the cast and crew of over 4,000 in total used more and more of the studios as the popularity of the books and films grew. The three young stars lived, grew up, went to school and turned into adults there on those stages.

Your tour begins in the foyer, with a flying Ford Anglia hanging from the ceiling and the walls adorned with huge photos of the cast, along with a few props.

Passing by the set of the cupboard under the stairs, you enter a room with a number of vertical TV screens showing Potter movie posters from around the world, followed by a short video sequence showing the rise of Harry’s popularity, the production teams discovery of the stories and the enormous worldwide success of the books and films.

Moving into the cinema, a short film introduced by Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, talking about their experiences growing up on a film set for ten years, with clips from all eight films. The film ends with them standing in front of the main doors to the Great Hall and they walk in through the doors and invite you to follow them.

The screen at this point slowly rises to reveal the actual main doors to the Great Hall, surrounded with stone statues and carvings. What a wizard way to start the tour.

Walking through into the Great Hall we are told that we were now walking on the actual stone floor used in the films and seeing the actual tables where the actors ate their feasts. Dummies down each side of the hall wear the actual costumes used in the films. At the far end of the hall is the teachers’ table area, with more amazing costumes worn by Professors Dumbledore, Snape, McGonagall, Moody, Trelawney and Flitwick, as well as Hagrid and Filch too.

Leaving the Great Hall you enter the first of two vast sound stages. This includes sets for the Gryffindor Common Room and Dormitory, Dumbledore’s Office, Potions Classroom, Hagrid’s Hut, Burrow’s Kitchen and parts of the Ministry of Magic, also Umbridge’s gaudy pink, feline office. Each filled to the brim with props and costumes.

Props can be seen everywhere, with a massive cage in the centre, chock-a-block with goblets, chandeliers, wands and armour. A huge glass case contains the wands of 24 of the major characters – less than 1 percent of the total number of wands made for the films. The ornate doors to a Gringott’s vault and to the Chamber of Secrets are seen after passing a wall dedicated to the paintings produced to decorate the walls of Hogwarts.

Below the giant swinging pendulum of the Hogwarts castle clock there are several huge touch screens containing an interactive Marauders Map.

There are sections of the soundstage dedicated to various movie-making crafts. The hair and makeup section, costumes section, animal department, graphic design and production.
The final section in this first soundstage is dedicated to the Special Effects department with three huge video screens showing all the tricks and techniques, including greenscreen footage and CGI. Props attached to their motion rigs, include the Gringott’s Vault Cart and Mad-Eye Moody’s Recumbent Broomstick.

In separate room you can have a go on a broomstick or drive the Ford Anglia yourself, using the greenscreen technology.

The Backlot about half way round the tour is an open air section between the two soundstages where refreshments are available, including Butterbeer the popular wizarding beverage.

Also featured on the backlot are the Knight Bus, another Ford Anglia, Hagrid’s motorbike/sidecar, the Riddle family tombstone, a section of the rickety wooden Hogwarts Bridge, Potter’s burnt out cottage from Godric’s Hollow and Number 4 Privet Drive.

Entering the second soundstage you pass some of the giant chess pieces from the first movie. A number of video screens here progressively show what it was like to work in the creature shop, cleverly leading you from one screen to the next, past models of Fawkes, a snapping Monster Book of Monsters and a giant animatronic head of Hagrid. The next room has the life size (i.e., ENORMOUS!) model of Aragog the spider and one of three animatronic Buckbeak models.

Walking around the corner (WOW) you are transported into another world entirely. The dark lighting and cobbled street can only mean one thing – you have entered Diagon Alley. The shops using the original sets have been rebuilt– Flourish & Blotts, Eeylops Owl Emporium, Potage’s Cauldron Shop and of course Ollivander’s Wand Shop, each and every one them is crammed full of detail. At the other end of the street is Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, with the bright orange shopfront standing out from the crowd of blackness and featuring a moving model of one of the red-haired twins doffing his hat.

At the end of Diagon Alley you move onto the Art and Design department with walls covered with architectural drawings and detailed plans, accurate down to the millimetre, for many of the props and sets already seen. A draftsman’s table serves as a projection screen for another video about the work of the art department.

Moving on, up the ascending path are walls full of concept paintings and artwork, also intricate cardboard models of Hogsmead and the Hogwarts.

You are only looking at a model of the model though, as entering the next room, there, spread over at least 15 square metres is the most amazing, complex and elaborate model built to a 1:24 scale. It has a bigger footprint than the average house.

The last part of the tour is a fitting tribute to the crew and cast of the most popular film franchise of all time. A much tidier recreation of the interior of Ollivander’s Wand shop, with over 4,000 wand boxes lining its shelves – one for every single person who worked on the films.

Exit through the Gift Shop.

Hidcote Manor Garden (NT)
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Image by Dave Catchpole
[1]

Hidcote – the most influential English garden of the 20th century – and Lawrence Johnston, the enigmatic genius behind it. Hidcote was the first garden ever taken on by the National Trust, who spent 3.5 million pounds in a major programme of restoration. This included researching Johnston’s original vision, which in turn uncovered the compelling story of how Johnston created such an iconic garden.

Until recently, little was known about the secretive and self-taught Johnston. He kept few, if any, records on Hidcote’s construction, but current head gardener Glyn Jones made it a personal mission to discover as much about the man as possible to reveal how, in the early 20th century, Johnston set about creating a garden that has inspired designers all over the world.

[2]

Hidcote is an Arts and Crafts garden in the north Cotswolds, a stone’s throw from Stratford-upon-Avon. Created by the talented American horticulturist, Major Lawrence Johnston its colourful and intricately designed outdoor ‘rooms’ are always full of surprises. It’s a must-see if you’re on holiday in the Cotswolds.

Explore the maze of narrow paved pathways and discover secret gardens, magnificent vistas and plants that burst with colour. Many of the plants found growing in the garden were collected from Johnston’s many plant hunting trips to far away places. It’s the perfect place if you’re in need of gardening inspiration.

Find a quiet spot and sit on one of the ornate benches and watch green woodpeckers search for their lunch or listen to the calls from the buzzards circling overhead. Time it right and you might catch a glimpse of the elusive hummingbird moth.

Meander through the intricate gardens and into the Wilderness. This secluded stretch of tall trees is just right for a picnic. Take a glimpse beyond the boundary and see the garden blend effortlessly into the countryside beyond.

The Monarch’s Way path runs close-by. Follow it for a brief time from the car park and into the chocolate-box Cotswold hamlet of Hidcote Bartrim. You’ll be treated to traditionally thatched stone cottages that were once home to Johnston’s gardeners.

[3]

Hidcote Manor Garden

Hidcote Manor Garden is a garden in Britain, located at Hidcote Bartrim village, near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire. It is one of the best-known and most influential Arts and Crafts gardens in Britain, with its linked "rooms" of hedges, rare trees, shrubs and herbaceous borders. Created by Lawrence Johnston, it is owned by the National Trust and is open to the public.

History

The Americans, Lawrence Johnston and his mother, settled in Britain about 1900, and Lawrence immediately became a British citizen and fought in the British army during the Boer war. In 1907 Johnston’s mother, Mrs Gertrude Winthrop (she had re-married), purchased the Hidcote Manor Estate. It was situated in a part of Britain with strong connections to the then-burgeoning Arts and Crafts movement and an Anglicized American artistic expatriate community centred nearby at Broadway, Worcestershire.

Johnston soon became interested in turning the fields around the house into a garden. By 1910 he had begun to lay out the key features of the garden, and by the 1920s he had twelve full-time gardeners working for him.

After World War II Johnston spent most of his time at Jardin Serre de la Madone, his garden in the south of France; and in 1947 he entrusted Hidcote to the National Trust.

Character of Hidcote garden

Lawrence Johnston was influenced in creating his garden at Hidcote by the work of Alfred Parsons and Gertrude Jekyll, who were designing gardens of hardy plants contained within sequences of outdoor "rooms". The theme was in the air: Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicholson’s Sissinghurst Castle Garden was laid out as a sequence of such spaces, without, it seems, direct connection with the reclusive and shy Major Johnston. Hidcote’s outdoor "rooms" have various characters and themes, achieved by the use of box hedges, hornbeam and yew, and stone walls. These rooms, such as the ‘White Garden’ and ‘Fuchsia Garden’ are linked, some by vistas, and furnished with topiaries. Some have ponds and fountains, and all are planted with flowers in bedding schemes. They surround the 17th century manor house, and there are a number of outhouses and a kitchen garden.

Johnston’s care in selecting the best plants is reflected in the narrow-leaved lavender, Lavandula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’, in the Penstemon ‘Hidcote Pink’ and in the hybrid Hypericum ‘Hidcote Gold’, acclaimed as the finest hardy St John’s Wort, Alice Coats records.

Inside the Great Kitchens
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Image by failing_angel
Built 1530, the kitchens would provide two meals a day for 600 members of the Tudor court.

The annual provision of meat for the Tudor court stood at 1,240 oxen, 8,200 sheep, 2,330 deer, 760 calves, 1,870 pigs and 53 wild boar [Hampton Court Palace website].

Hampton Court Palace began with Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (c.1473-1530) acquiring what was then a grange from the Order of St John (the Knights Hospitaller) in 1514 and redeveloping it as a palace. The new palace included the Base Court (which included 40 guest lodgings), and the inner Clock Court (which had state apartments for Henry VIII, Katherine of Aragon and the Princess Mary). The palace was used for hosting state functions such as diplomatic visits as well as entertainments.
In 1529 Hampton Court passed to Henry following Wolsey’s downfall, at which point Henry built upon and developed an already substantial palace. The new complex included larger kitchens, a chapel and great hall, as well as tennis courts, a bowling alley and tiltyard. Starting less than 6 months of taking possession, Henry’s works weren’t complete until 1540.
Each of Henry’s heirs stayed at Hampton Court (indeed Edward VI was born there), although only Elizabeth I made any changes and those were relatively minor; this was similar under the Stuarts, with the next changes to the palace happening with William and Mary.
Sir Christopher Wren (1632-1723) was comissioned to design a new palace, but the cost of demolishing the existing building was too prohibitive, instead the east and south sides were rebuilt.
The last phase of construction happened with the Hanoverians, with Sir John Vanbrugh (1664-1726) designing the Queen’s apartments under George I, and William Kent (c. 1685-1748) the Queen’s staircase and Cumberland Suite under George II.
The royal family left Hampton Court in 1737, after which time the palace became grace and favour apartments for a century, before being opened to the public by Queen Victoria.

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