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London on screen: The Leaky Cauldron from ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’

Written by
Thomas Hobbs

The sneaky entrance to Diagon Alley in ‘The Philosopher’s Stone’ is actually an optician in Leadenhall Market. That rounded doorway will be instantly recognisable to Harry Potter fans – they may even find Mad-Eye Moody inside, getting fitted for a contact lens.

The location: The Glass House, 2-3 Bull’s Head Passage, Leadenhall Market, EC3V 1LU.

The scene: Rescued from the Dursleys by Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his giant pal head to secret London wizards’ pub The Leaky Cauldron. A magical brick wall leads to Diagon Alley and some wand shopping for Harry.

Then: ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ director Chris Columbus was struggling to find a setting for The Leaky Cauldron when he came upon The Glass House, a Leadenhall Market opticians (a change from the novel’s Charing Cross Road location). ‘We hadn’t renovated so the front door looked old and decrepit,’ remembers owner Chris Blatchley. ‘It was the perfect guise for a pub for wizards.’

Now: The opticians is still going strong. Although the location for the Leaky Cauldron changed for the third film ‘The Prisoner of Azkaban’– the front door of Chez Michele, a small flower shop in Borough Market, took its place – Potter fans still come ‘almost hourly’ to take selfies. ‘Warner Bros still has the rights to shoot at the opticians,’ adds Blatchley. ‘I hope they bring the original Leaky Cauldron back for a prequel!’

For more of the city on screen, check out our list of the 30 best London movies.

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