Plan to visit those historical places in London you’ve read about in famous novels like The Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter! Let your imagination run wild as you stand in the very spots where fiction writers have set some of their most memorable scenes.
If you’re looking for affordable hotels in London close to these landmarks yet on a quiet street, check out the London Guards Hotel which you can find on HostelBookers which is not a bad stay especially for the price.
On with the sites…….
As the final resting place for England’s revered authors and poets, it’s inevitable that Westminster Abbey appears in many novels, but none had a bigger impact than The Da Vinci Code. Although you’ll find Newton’s tomb exactly as described in the story, you will also be given a “Fact Sheet” debunking many of the book’s claims about Westminster Abbey; notably that Alexander Pope never delivered Newton’s eulogy there (he wrote it after the funeral), so the cryptic clue leading the “Grail Questers” to Westminster Abbey is officially bogus.
Don’t Try This: In the novel, Robert Langdon takes a brass rubbing from a grave marker. This is strictly forbidden in Westminster Abbey.
From Shakespeare’s Henry VI to The Da Vinci Code, this house of worship has loomed large in literature. Modern-day Templars welcome the curious (for a small fee) to tour their facilities, enjoy their musical performances and join them in prayer (except for Sundays from 2-4pm when they are closed to the public.)
Do Try This: Every Friday at 1pm the Master of the Temple presents a public lecture on its historic connections to the Da Vinci Code storyline.
Since 1852, British fiction writers have favored King’s Cross Station; from these platforms Sherlock Holmes embarked on his investigations and Harry Potter boarded the Hogwart’s Express. According to the children’s classic The Secret of Platform 13, King’s Cross contains a “gump” or portal that occasionally opens to transport humans to a mythical island. In the continuing story of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century, the magical power collected by King’s Cross helps the heroes detect the Anti-Christ (who resembles Harry Potter?).
Photo Op: On the brick wall between gates 9 and 10 you’ll find a sign for Platform 9 ¾ in which a trolley is embedded.
As a magnet for exotic treasures, it’s no surprise that the British Museum figures prominently in fantasy stories like Neverwhere where the heroes discover a piece of art on display containing the Angelus, a magical portal leading to an “alternate London.” In the Children of the Lamp series (where it’s affectionately referred to as the BM) the novice genies are sent to the British Museum’s Egyptian Gallery to release the lost Djinn from jars where they’d been imprisoned for centuries.
If you’re a Student: With an appointment you can access The Prints and Drawing Room (Room 90). Bring your ID and ring the brass bell for admittance.
On a street corner in Oxford stands a monument to Protestant church officials who were burned at the stake in the 1600s. Although the tale is grizzly, the monument itself is quite lovely, as noted in The Adventures of Mr. Verdant Green about a student attending Oxford in the 1800s. A famous quote by one of the figures on the memorial, Nicholas Ridley, is used in Fahrenheit 451 as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit.
Don’t Fall for This: Since the monument resembles a church spire, tour guides suggest the underground stairwell leads to a church buried underneath. When investigated, however, the stairway only accesses a public toilet.