Road Trip Wednesday: Day Two – Gloucester, Lacock Abbey, & Stonehenge
After an amazing first day in England, we set off for a second day full of adventures!
First on the trip was a stop in Gloucester, where we saw the unbelievably gorgeous Gloucester Cathedral. Religious or not, I would dare to say it is impossible to deny the pure beauty of that building. I haven’t ever been in anything quite like it. It also helped that we saw a bit of where the Harry Potter films were shot! We visited corridors and a cloister used in the films that felt all too real.
Our next stop for the day was Lacock Abbey. One of my favorite Potter-related sights here was a giant cauldron up on a platform, which was used in the films. The workers on site told us that the cauldron was so heavy, that they never moved it or took it down. It’s a shame there were people about, it would have been nice to have a go at brewing something…
Near the Abbey are a few other Potter sites. We got to see a quaint cottage that is used as the Potters’ home in Godric’s Hollow, as well as the house in which a certain Horace Slughorn is hiding out when Dumbledore and Harry find him. Even the the gate outside the house looked exactly as it did on film.
Our next stop was the amazing Stonehenge. It was my first time visiting the site, so you can imagine how breathtaking the experience was. Interestingly, the stone circle is off on its own, not really near anything, and it looks almost unremarkable when you drive up. But then you see the stone circle itself, and you get up close, and you’re rendered speechless for a few moments.
The second day of our journey ended as we crossed into Wales and stopped in the city of Cardiff. We walked to the water to get a lovely nighttime view, before turning in for the evening.
After getting a bit of a sleep start, a la the Weasleys in Goblet of Fire, we left Rosie’s house and made our way to Gloucester Cathedral. The town itself is beautiful, but can’t hold a candle to the absolutely stunning cathedral at its center. Walking up to the cathedral we could see that it was beautiful. It’s an English gothic, romanesque cathedral with a lot of steeples and plenty of stained glass – but it isn’t until you get inside that you realize that it is so much more than that.
We were happily surprised to find out that The Three Choirs Festival – the oldest music festival in the world – was in progress during our visit. The choir was practicing as we walked through the stunning cathedral, and it certainly made the experience all the more magical. A lot of the features of the cathedral could clearly be pointed to as inspiration for Hogwarts, but in fact this location wasn’t used until the later films, Half-Blood Prince in particular. The hallways here seem to be alive, and you can almost here the crowds of Hogwarts students running through, trying to find their classes. The most famous scene shot here in particular, is at the beginning of Half-Blood Prince when McGonagall tells Harry to take Ron to Potions class with him. Of course we HAD to re-create the scene and had a fit of the “OMG’s” all the while. On our way out, Caleb & Alexandra took a moment to light a candle and say a prayer, because when you are in a place that is this amazing, clearly spiritual, and very much alive, it would be a shame not to. (pics 1-10)
Our next stop (after stopping to take a few road side selfies – pics 13 & 14) was Lacock Abbey. We knew of a few things that were filmed here, including McGonagall’s office from the first film, and a courtyard scene. When we arrived we told the clerk that “we want to see the Harry Potter locations!” and she happily informed us that there were three: The cloisters (courtyard scene), the Potter’s house, and OMG – Slughorn’s house! We were very pleasantly surprised. With a map under arm, we made our way out into the cloisters. Along the way we found the room where Harry encounters the flying keys (well, the bottom part of the room anyway!) and the room that we at the time thought to be where the Mirror of Erised lived – but we can’t be 100% sure. What do you think? (pics 13 – 17). They wouldn’t let us into the cloisters (boo) as another film was going to be using it soon, but she did let us stand on the stairs and take a group pic (pic 18). The abbey was quiet and very serene – in fact, we found a nice older gentleman napping! (pic 19).
After we had our fill of the cloisters, we took a walk through the small town towards the spot where she labeled the “Potter’s house”. We walked up to it…and were confused. None of us remembered this house from any of the films. Maybe it was a deleted scene? Since none of us had data to Google it, Caleb snapped a shot of it, and we were on our way (pic 20). It wasn’t until much later, once home, that we realized that it was the Potter’s house from the first film flashback – you can see it at :40 in this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pp4oAZHgySw
We then headed back to the other end of the town, very near the outskirts, towards Slughorn’s cottage. We were all excited for this, and to be honest, feeling a bit silly because we drove right by it on the way in. We had a hard time finding it, as it truly is really out of the way, but once we did, ha! We were squeeing with delight (well, except Caleb – probably). It was very cool to stand right in the spot that Michael Gambon & Dan Radcliffe did, looking up at the cottage before us. It hasn’t changed a bit since filming, and we didn’t stay long as to not disturb the owners who may or may not have been home. (pic 21).
We then headed to our last stop for the day – Stonehenge. I won’t get into a lot of detail here, since it’s not a Potter related spot, but WOW. It was truly stunning. We were, again, lucky to be there without a large crowd of people and almost no wait to get to the attraction. The clouds were really epic that day, and I got a lot of very beautiful shots – like pic 22 below.
After FaceTiming with literally everyone we could think of, we headed out and made our way to Wales! The drive wasn’t too bad, it was very beautiful, it was a nice day, and before we left we had an AMAZING dinner with our friends, Jo & Dan (yeah – it’s who you think it is. *wink*), and admittedly it wasn’t the nicest restaurant we could’ve gone to, but it sure was delicious! They even took some selfies with us – check it out! Approximately four hours later we made it our hotel for the evening, a lovely place right on the Cardiff Bay. We walked around for a bit, took in the gorgeous bay (pics 23 & 24), had a little bit of home in some Ben & Jerry’s, then crashed. The morning would bring a very…special “experience” that we were anxious to visit!