What do you get when you combine trains, archive libraries, and a movie set tour? A nerd-tastic day in London!!
My very first trip to London ever was marked ceremoniously by doing the nerdiest things possible in the city (and I’m extremely blessed to have a friend here who is just as much of a dork as I am). As soon as we arrived in London, we made our way to King’s Cross Station. That’s right. The station where Harry Potter got on the train for Hogwarts. And of course that’s exactly the reason we went there: to take a picture between platforms 9 and 10. Unfortunately you can’t actually get to the train platforms without a train ticket, which is fine because that means the actual Platform 9 ¾ is not mobbed with muggles and the wizards can still inconspicuously get to school. But for those of us muggles who actually want to pretend that we are magical (because we are…we just couldn’t get our letters because the Battle of Hogwarts was going on at the time), the kind people of King’s Cross have erected a sign on the wall that says “Platform 9 ¾” and directly underneath the sign is a luggage trolley that is halfway “through” the wall. It even has an owl cage on the trolly. Not only that, however, but Platform 9 ¾ is such a popular picture spot that we waited in line for like 30 minutes. (Ok, maybe it wasn’t that long…but it felt like forever! It was totally worth the wait though), and there are actually two people who work there. There’s a professional photographer, and a crowd-control-scarf-giving guy, who basically just keeps people in line and has a small collection of Harry Potter scarves that you can borrow from him to take a picture with. So of course I threw off my Gryffindor scarf (the only Harry Potter scarf I own, which I bought at Harry Potter world before I was sorted) and traded it for none other than a beautiful yellow and black Hufflepuff scarf. If you haven’t seen it, go look at my Facebook. That picture alone got something like 45 likes, so basically if you’re my friend you probably liked it. And if you didn’t actually click the like button, then it probably popped up on your newsfeed a bunch of times.
Anyway, after our wonderful trip to King’s Cross, we had a few hours until our time slot for the Harry Potter Studios Tour, so what did we do? Walked around the most epic library EVER!! Let me just tell you about the sheer epicness of this library, because if you were walking around in London and passed this building, you probably wouldn’t go in. It’s nothing special, really. It’s a very unassuming building, just sort of chillin’ next to this GORGEOUS hotel. If we didn’t know what we were looking for, we probably would have passed it. So how did we discover this hidden jewel? In the nerdiest way possible. There’s this website called “Nerdy Day Trips” (I’m not making this up, y’all), and we just plugged in “London” and boom, a bunch of spots came up. This place looked pretty cool, I mean what nerd doesn’t like libraries? And apparently they had the original Magna Carta. Awesome-sauce.
I, however, was not prepared for just how epic this library truly was. Do you know what I found on display there? SHAKESPEARE’S FIRST FOLIO!!! For those of you who don’t know, I am taking a Shakespeare course here in England, and for this reason I know that the First Folio is the very first published collection of ALL of Shakespeare’s plays, put together shortly after his death! So we’re talking, like, 1600’s. This book is from the 1600’s. Wrap your mind around that. It’s about as old as the oldest city in the United States (which is only about 60 years older). CRAZINESS. I literally almost cried with happiness when I saw it. I think there are probably marks on that glass case from my nose being pressed up against it. Wouldn’t be surprised if there were drops of drool either. I was freaking out y’all.
We also saw awesome stuff like the original handwritten manuscripts of many famous musicians like Handel, Haydn, and Schubert. We of course saw the Magna Carta. We saw lots of old Gutenberg Bibles, and lots of other old religious texts. But you know what second-most awesome thing I found was? I found the actual handwritten letter from Queen Elizabeth I ordering the beheading of my ancestor, Sir Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex! I had known this story for many years, that I was related to this famous English nobleman who was extremely close with Queen Elizabeth and then tried to lead a rebellion against her and lost his head in the process. His entire family was then banished to Ireland (and that, folks, is why we Devereux’s are Irish). But this was totally unexpected. An actual letter! In Queen Elizabeth’s handwriting! I feel somewhat guilty saying that I was excited to find my ancestor’s death sentence, but I do think it has a level of epicness.
After we had sufficiently explored the library (of which I have no real pictures because pictures were not allowed in the exhibits), we headed back to the train station to catch our train to Watford Junction, a suburb of London where the WB Harry Potter studio sets are!
If I go into every detail of the trip I might as well just turn this into a book, so I’ll just give you the highlights. First of all, standing in the Great Hall was absolutely wonderful. I noticed so many details I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.
I also got to experience first-hand how Quidditch was filmed by riding one of these contraptions in a windy room in front of a green screen:
While I was on the broom, I could watch a live video of myself in which the green screen was replaced by various scenes of London and Hogwarts. One minute I would be flying through the streets of London, and the next I would be flying over the water, zooming up to the top of Hogwarts castle. They even let me borrow a set of Hufflepuff robes for the occasion, and I went into full tourist-mode and bought the souvenir photograph. I chose the scene where I was flying over Hogwarts. It’s a great picture. No regrets.
If you haven’t stalked my album on Facebook, go do it (going backwards from the first picture is probably the best idea, since the album now has over 700 pictures in it. It might take a while to start from the beginning). But for now I’ll just leave you with this. No words. Just epicness.