‘Harry Potter vs Voldemort (Part 9)’ – 40 in the year of 40, #33
Curse after curse thrown, like bolts of colourful lightning, ripping apart hedges, walls, small children and grandmothers on mobility scooters. Harry and Voldemort writhed in agony before miraculously recovering time and again. Malfoy Manor was in bits. Or so it seemed …
And so the final Harry Potter film has at last hit our cinema screens (The Deathly Hallows, Part 2). The release of ‘Part 1’ on DVD in April, was probably the deciding factor for what became number 33 in my ’40 in the year of 40’ quest – ‘Malfoy Manor: Kid’s choice, part 1’ *.
On this occasion the boys were offered a choice of three: the National Space Centre, the National Media Museum, or Malfoy Manor. Given that the latter was much closer than the others and we’d put in a lot of miles that week, I admit to ‘tapping up’ the voters – but they were complicit!
Near the beginning of The Deathly Hallows, Part I, Severus Snape (is he good, is he bad?) ‘apparates’ in front of large iron gates that prevent entry to an imposing house. With a flick of his wand, the gates dissolve as his body touches the metal, reforming again as he makes his way inside, to the Death Eaters and his Dark Lord. It is all very foreboding.
‘Malfoy Manor’ in the film is based on Hardwick Hall, a National Trust property , ten minutes from junction 29 of the M1 motorway, between Chesterfield and Mansfield. I’d heard from my sister that the Trust was celebrating their connection to J.K.Rowling’s work and that it was worth a visit.
We had been to Hardwick before. If you like large stately places, with a strong sense of history and great gardens to wander through, you could do worse than go to Hardwick.
Bess, the second richest woman in England after Queen Elizabeth the 1st, is the most significant character in the house’s history, ruling the roost with her four husbands. Although less populated by historical artefacts than other houses, there are plenty of sights to impress the amateur historian.
In a room off the grand entrance hall, children were being invited to craft their own wands from rolled card, and to begin the ‘around the house’ quiz sheet: a good start.
Thomas and Jacob had, however, prepared for their visit; arriving at the front of the house like Snape – capes on, wands out, devious deeds in mind.
We progressed through the house to the relatively small room hosting the main Potter features: potion jars, spell books, cloaks, a dressing mirror and a broomstick signed by the author; all accompanied by spooky music.
It was quite good, although I think they could have made more of it in the rest of the house. One of the guides told us that the film makers had flown over the Hall in a helicopter and were clearly impressed by the exterior. But they hadn’t filmed inside the house. That was a little disappointing.
Once we headed into the gardens however, the battle that ensued was something to behold. Have a look:
Jacob was in his element. We had to ask him to reduce the volume in case his Avada Kedavras, unleashed after leaping from behind bushes, really did cause too many palpitations for some of the more elderly visitors, there for the house and not for the ruffians rolling around on the lawns.
Thomas had fun too, although he is clearly at that age where he’s becoming more self-conscious. He needed a little encouragement to put the cape on. That said, he was more than happy to curse his brother, sorry, I mean ‘deadly rival’.
I read all seven Harry Potter books to Thomas, at bedtime, ten pages each night, for at least a couple of years, and Jacob and I are part way through the third. We’ve seen all of the films. So with the final film coming out in England this weekend, it does feel a little sad, but there have been lots of great times along the way.
* This was indeed Part 1. Part 2 – the open choice – was already agreed, but not delivered at that time. It is one to write up …
Earlier in April, during our trip to London, we had experienced the Millennium Bridge, scene of a key moment at the beginning of ‘Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince’.
And finally, if you want to explore further, all of my 40 in the year of 40 experiences written up to date can be found here.