A World of Wonders at Leavesden Studios

On a recent visit to the Harry Potter tour at the Warner Brothers Studios in Leavesden, I was moved.

The door to the Chamber of Secrets
The door to the Chamber of Secrets

Not simply by the moment when I and my two children first stepped into the Hogwarts Great Hall, or by the moment when I first came upon the model of Hogwarts Castle, or when I first saw that beautiful Hogwarts Bridge out in the middle of the “Back Lot”, or by when I tasted my first Butterbeer, but by the whole experience, and the reflections that arose from it.

Hogwarts Bridge
Hogwarts Bridge

All these wonderful objects and scenes and lovingly created details and the magnificent model castle… all because of one woman’s imagination.

To see the products of J.K. Rowlings’ imagination brought into richly-detailed reality was awesome.

I thought, All this is here because of people loving her stories in their millions.

“People in their millions”, of course equals “money”, in the film industry.

Dolores Umbridge's study
Dolores Umbridge’s study

But I was reminded of what J.K. Rowling said when asked in Trafalgar Square after the premier of the final “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” film, “What do you want to say?”

And she said, “Thank you – for making this happen.”

And as I left the Warner Brothers studios I thought too of her words, displayed in the exhibition: “Stories can only live if someone listens.”


* Photos taken by Abigail Robinson

Author: scskillman

I write contemporary thriller/suspense fiction. "Mystical Circles" is psychological suspense and "A Passionate Spirit" is a paranormal thriller. Both are available as paperbacks and as ebooks. To buy signed copies, go to my website www.scskillman.co.uk where you can order either or both using a secure PayPal link. I've also published a short non-fiction book "Perilous Path: A Writer's Journey", full of helpful tips, insights and reminders for writers.

4 thoughts on “A World of Wonders at Leavesden Studios

  1. If you really want to appreciate the lasting scope & depth of Rowling’s under-rated literary skills, as well as the universal appeal of the Potter saga across ages, genders, cultures, etc., try any book by English Lit. Professor John Granger on the series. The ones written after Deathly Halllows are the most complete, as the 7-book story itself was then complete (w/o book 7, it may as well be a mystery missing the final, “reveal” chapter), and most of his oft-scoffed interpretations & predictions were by then vindicated. Even his early literary exploration into the books reveal much about alchemy, British Literary history, and a wealth of the English Literary Symbolism & interlocking-details that raise the books from their judgment, by certain uneducated “authorities” who dismiss them on hearsay, w/o reading them, as solely (& derogatorily-termed) ‘children’s books’, to their true stature as timeless masterpieces on a par if not surpassing those of Tolkein & Lewis, her literary ancestors. The films are fun, but merely scratch the surface of the thousands of pages. Rowling planned out the whole 7-book story over a 7 year period of research, reading, & outlining the detailed, multi-thematic plot(s) before ever writing the first book. A second reading of the series is as equally jaw-dropping as the first reading (1st trip really clicks in as ‘more than kids’ entertainment in Book 3, Prisoner of Azkaban), because now that you know what you know, you can see the signposts hidden in plain sight, the references along the way–how the tiniest of details in each book have a habit of popping up later, even much later, as details on which the story or subplots eventually hinge, usually while delivering serious moral and ethical dilemmas and scathing social criticism leveled at the corrupt institutions of journalism, government, & education, and aiming also at racism, political correctness, the rich who ignore the poor, & even satirizing “new age” occultism. She delves deep into the true nature of Love (as opposed to the fake love sold by the media), and not Love as a mushy feeling, but as a powerful force–literally THE most powerful force, eclipsing the corrupting temptation of power, which frankly, most of us seek, in our own ways, and to our own detriments. Most surprising to those “without eyes to see” is the amount of content, large & small, that would’ve been recognized by anyone in England up until the last century or two (& now only by medievalists and those familiar with the particularly-English Literary Tradition), as a veritable avalanche of Christian meaning, symbolism, and signposts, from the names of characters and things to the structure of the plots themselves. Ironic innit? Especially given the Noise of Protest raised by fringe American Evangelicals (Mainstream Evangelicalism made peace with Harry fairly early), which noise died away as fewer and fewer could continue to slander their devout Anglican sister-in-Christ (Rowling) with any semblance of intellectual honesty, especially as all “magic” practiced in the books is that born of the long-accepted Fantasy Genre of the English Literary Tradition, and nowhere in the books is there anything even resembling (even by the bad guys!) “sorcery” as properly defined, which is, whether in fiction or fact, the naturally unpredictable and therefore dangerous practice of the invocation by ritual of a being from another realm to do the bidding of the invoker, or, “sorcerer”. Such a scene Does occur in a Narnia book, and that scene also delineates the difference between “invoking”/sorcery and the English literary fantasy idea that non-invoking magic is simply a harmonization with nature/creation. During the most heated years of the fringe “christian” anti-Potter hullabaloo, it is shocking that not one of those rabblerousers who judged & damned these books ever went to a library/bookstore for a book on How To Do “Real” Magic to see if its instructions at all resembled the long commonplace (though renewed & enlivened by Rowling’s artistic whimsy) appearance of the traditional fictional fantasy magic in Potter. Because there is no resemblance! No burnt sage or spell circles to protect from the unpredictable demon or other Other invoked … not at all. That alone flattens the “gateway” argument. Especially since in the books, whether one is magical or non-magical isn’t up to them. If you’re born one way and want to be the other way, too bad. This is made clear, though I won’t spoil the fun.

    1. Thank you for your comment! I’ve had a look at Professor John Granger’s books on Harry Potter which sound intriguing. I agree that the many and complex interlocking references throughout the HP series do probably supply an answer to why so many have been captivated by the stories. It always fascinates me how readers respond to such complexity, without necessarily understanding it consciousnessly. It reminds me once again of the subject of “archetypal themes” in literature, which find their response in our hearts & minds, on an unconscious level.(see http://www.scoop.it/t/literature-psychology/p/2141234096/books-that-shock-move-and-change-their-readers-s-c-skillman
      Thank you again for replying in such detail about a subject that you clearly feel passionately about.

  2. I am not a reader of the Harry Potter books however I have seen one of the films,but I do admire the author how she got to where she is now, very inspiring .My comment is to say how lovely Abigails photos are and how I enjoy Sheila`s blogs.

    1. Thank you Isabella, I’m glad you liked Abigail’s photos. She has a huge number of them from this Harry Potter Tour! Yes, I cannot help admiring JK Rowling because I think she is a true writer; she just loved writing the stories, and she is so modest as a person too – not a big ego, but she always comes over as so genuine.

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