When Durham Met Alnwick: The Warder’s Tower Story

My Prisoner of Azkaban model is really coming along now. I’ve continued into the area where Durham Cathedral architecture starts to collide with Alnwick Castle architecture. I also tweaked some of the wood textures and added some narrow slits I missed on the Dark Tower.

The greenhouses will eventually sit in this area, but I’m more interested in the Alnwick stuff at the moment. First up: a short structure that’s virtually identical to the warder’s tower at Alnwick. (I mean, it kinda had to be, since they shot stuff on location there!) I’d actually already started this structure early last year. You can see it in this old render from the very beginning of this blog:

This was all done in a completely separate file, and of course it was before I had created my trusty Hogwarts brick materials. Feel free to read more about it in this early post.

Bringing this model over into the main file was relatively easy, especially since I’d built it to the same scale to facilitate this eventual migration. Here’s a rather similar angle of the exact same partial model, but properly positioned and textured:

Time to flesh out the warder’s tower. I’m going to keep calling it that, by the way; to my knowledge, it has no in-universe name. It’s simply designated as Building P on the technical drawings, and I’m not going to expect myself (much less you!) to remember that.

Anyway, since this model I’d previously started was based purely on the real-world Alnwick location, I did have to make some tweaks to match the VFX miniature built for the Potter films. (I split the difference in a few spots.)

I also had to decide what to do about the Hogwarts-style torches that flank the archway – they were temporarily installed at Alnwick for the shoot, but when they were similarly added to the miniature, they were moved inward and upward to adjacent walls closer to the archway. I went back and forth on this quite a bit before ultimately deciding to accept the location shoot as canon, not the miniature. I felt this choice was bolstered significantly by the fact that this part of the miniature was never actually seen in the films, whereas the full-sized torches are prominently visible in multiple scenes shot on location for both SS and COS. (I still think the other way would been a fully defensible choice too, though.)

Here we are with the torches added, the remainder of the structure built, and some of the remaining details incorporated:

I’m really noticing the stark architectural contrast between Durham and Alnwick. There are so many more funky angles in the Alnwick-derived areas of Hogwarts…they really stand out quite a bit compared to the rest of the school, where the footprint is dominated by right angles, octagons, and circles. This isn’t news to me, but the contrast is especially noticeable when you’ve just come off a long stretch of essentially modelling a cathedral. Alnwick Castle is a lot more haphazard and organic, and of course it was simply built for very different purposes. I like these areas of Hogwarts – and I don’t think that’s only due to nostalgia – but I can understand why Stuart Craig was eager to tidy up the castle’s profile in the later films.

Here’s a POV shot from over by the base of the bell towers with this side of the warder’s tower complete. This view would only be unobstructed in the first film because as I said, this is where the greenhouses went in.

On a COMPLETELY unrelated note, I’ve already begun laying the groundwork for the next structures I’m going to tackle. I don’t have anything to show yet, but I’ll give you a hint: there are 8.5 of them, and despite my longtime assumption that they were all the same size, they’re actually not.

Yup. Completely unrelated. Anyway, see ya next time!


8 thoughts on “When Durham Met Alnwick: The Warder’s Tower Story

    1. The Alnwick roofing is a different material – in real life, I believe it’s lead sheeting, and the miniature retains that look. It’s a lighter color and smoother texture. I may still add a bit more grit to it, as it’s fairly plain at the moment.


      1. I was just wondering, because in this still of POA (https://imgur.com/C5w8Ol8) you can see the roof more clearly and it appeared to be more cream coloured than in your image. On another note; in your image the stairs, to the northern most tower thingy seem to be missing, though it’s hard to be sure. Thought I’d point that out. (Also, this is Luuk commenting again, I’m just logged in now since I’m back from holiday.)


  1. Welcome back – hope you had a nice holiday! The color does look a little different in that POA shot, but after studying a lot of photos of the miniature at Leavesden and of the real Alnwick Castle’s rooftops, I feel pretty confident in the lead treatment (though the exact look is still a work in progress).

    Good eye on that staircase. I’ll be completing that area in the future, either when I finish the west side of the tower or when I add the adjacent curtain walls. 🙂


  2. Hi Mate

    It seems like you are really doing a great job here.
    I stumbled upon your website while researching a project where I am going to recreate hogwarts in a scale 1:87 (HO) and was wondering if you were able to export some drawings with measurements for me, so I can avoid the hassle you have been trough getting everything to scale?

    Thanks in advance


      1. Sure, however, I am a bit concerned about leaving it on a public website.
        Is there any way I can reach you?


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