THOUSANDS of tourists and other visitors are now calling in at the new Christ Church visitor centre.

There are one million visitors each year to the meadow, with 452,000 of them paying visitors to see inside the college where The Hall was used for Harry Potter films.

The new visitor centre with thatched roof features a shop and ticket office, with toilet facilities attached.

And a neighbouring 19th century barn has been converted and will include an interpretation space in an old bull pen for material about Christ Church, focusing initially on the meadow, civil war defence, plus facilities for academic research and conference use.

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Domestic bursar Pauline Linières-Hartley said the new centre, which provides visitors with multi-media listening guides, has proved popular since it opened in October.

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She said: “The multi-media guides are new and the visitors really love them - there is a choice of nine languages plus sign language.

“They listen very carefully to all the information as they take a tour of college including the cathedral and the hall where Harry Potter was filmed.

“They listen carefully so their progress around the college is now very quiet.

“The new guide is full of information, which lasts about half an hour although it can be longer.”

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Ms Linières-Hartley said the new facility would help the college to provide a great service to its visitors all year round. The months of July and August are a particularly busy time.

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In the visitor centre’s shop there is plenty of Harry Potter memorabilia for sale, together with a special edition of the board game Monopoly.

Previously the shop and ticket office was in the 13th century chapter house, which can now be used again for lectures and concerts.

Treasurer James Lawrie said earlier that Christ Church was a centre for Charles I in the civil war.

He added: “Parliament was held in the hall, and during the building work we uncovered the foundations of a civil war battlement designed to keep out the Roundheads.”

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A compound for gardeners, providing storage and changing facilities, has also been built. Mr Lawrie said: “Our gardeners are delighted as they now have better facilities - they are responsible for looking after the meadow which covers about 40 acres.”

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A new stone ramp has been built leading to the visitor centre, which will help those in wheelchairs, or mums with pushchairs.

Oxford Preservation Trust backed the project, while council planners insisted on the thatched roofs.

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All year round tourists can be seem congregating in Christ Church Meadow ready to take a tour of the college and the new visitor centre now gives them a warm welcome. Earlier this week it emerged that visits to Oxfordshire are worth £2.2bn a year.

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A study revealed an increase in spend of 5.1 one per cent, taking the value of visitor economy spend in Oxfordshire to £2.28bn, meeting the county’s target of five per cent growth.