Here are just a few places to include in your literary tour of Britain.
Every Harry Potter fan knows that King’s Cross Station is where Hogwarts students catch the Hogwarts Express from at the beginning of the school year. While the station is a real place, the magical Platform 9 ¾ is purely fictional.
However, as the Harry Potter series grew in popularity, King’s Cross Station saw an influx in tourists, and erected a cast-iron “Platform 9¾” plaque in 1999. With part of a luggage trolley installed below the sign [the near end of the trolley is visible, but the rest has disappeared into the wall], the site is a popular tourist attraction, and the location of the sign has had to be moved on three occasions.
In addition to the Platform 9¾ plaque, within King’s Cross Station is also a Harry Potter souvenir shop, which sells a wide range of merchandise including house t-shirts and scarves, replica wands, and even owls! (Don’t worry, they’re not real!)
For fans of English poet, playwright, and actor, William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire is a must-visit location.
On Henley Street is a restored 16th-century half-timbered house, where it is believed that William Shakespeare was born in 1564 and spent his childhood years.
It is now a small museum open to the public and owned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
The site offers many attractions for literature lovers, including live readings performed by a troupe of actors (you can even request a scene from your favourite Shakespeare play), The Shakespeare’s Treasures Exhibition; which features a range of unique and priceless objects - including documents and portraits, and the Beyond Words Exhibition, which features an array of Shakespeare memorabilia, contemporary artwork, a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio and a timeline of Shakespeare’s life.
Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy, The Lord of the Rings, may not know that many locations and characters were inspired by Tolkien’s childhood in Birmingham, where he first lived near Sarehole Mill, and later near Edgbaston Reservoir.
In fact, the water tower at the edge of Edgbaston Reservoir and the near-by Perrott’s Folly, are said to have inspired the towers Orthanc and Minas Morgul.
In the 2005 movies adaptation of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, only the Pevensie Siblings’ journey to ‘Coombe Halt’ was filmed in the UK.
However, in 1988 a TV adaptation of The Chronicles of Narnia was filmed at Hawkstone Park in Weston-under-Redcastle, Shropshire.
The park’s historic and stunning follies, featuring a series of tunnels, grottos and arches, amid the beautiful Shropshire landscape made the perfect backdrop for Narnia.
In addition, Hawkstone is commonly connected with Arthurian legends, and in Graham Phillips’ King Arthur: The True Story identifies it as the possible final resting place of King Arthur.
As one of Britain’s most well-known landmarks, it’s not surprising to learn that Stonehenge is commonly featured in popular culture.
It’s appeared in two episodes of Doctor Who, the movie National Lampoon’s European Vacation, and in an episode of Spongebob Square Pants, Spongbob creates a large monument of stone sponges similar to Stonehenge in order to distract jellyfish.
In the literary world, it serves as the backdrop for the climax of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles.
It’s easy to see why the prehistoric monument - located in Wiltshire, England - has made such a mark in fiction. Just 42 miles from the mythological location of Glastonbury Tor (which has been linked to the legend of King Arthur), Stonehenge’s spiritual associations makes it the perfect magical muse for any writer!
I hope you enjoyed this Book Lover’s Guide to Britain. Of course, these are just a few of the wonderful literary landmarks around the British Isles, and readers are welcome to comment with their own must-visit sites for Bibliophiles.