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Tuesday, 8 August, 2000, 15:12 GMT 16:12 UK
Harry Potter goes to church
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
The movie of the first Harry Potter tale takes the US title of the book
Gloucester Cathedral has been signed up for a starring role in the first film adaptation of a Harry Potter book.

The 900-year-old cathedral will be transformed into the school for wizardry attended by Harry Potter for the Warner Brothers' version of the first book of the Potter series - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

With its striking Gothic spires and vaulted cloisters, the medieval cathedral was considered ideal to double as the mysterious Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Potter stories 'wholesome'

Describing the cathedral as "atmospheric", the Dean of Gloucester, the very Reverend Nicholas Bury, expressed his approval for the project.

"It is one of the most beautiful cathedrals and its friendliness and human scale have often been remarked upon.

Gloucester Cathedral
Gloucester Cathedral's Rev Bury was not worried about filming

"It is a good place for a story about a young boy making friends in his first year at an unusual school."

Rev Bury was not put off by concerns that JK Rowling's books could encourage an interest in the occult, even though this had led Canterbury Cathedral to turn down the movie's producers.

Having read three of the books himself, Rev Bury disagreed that Harry Potter and Philopspher's Stone - and the rest of the Potter books - were un-Christian.

"I think the book is a marvellous traditional children's story and excellently written. It is also amusing, exciting and wholesome, and is just the sort of story families should be encouraged to read.

"In the book, goodness, honesty and integrity overcome lies and deceit. I believe the books are likely to become classic children's stories in the great tradition of CS Lewis's Narnia stories and JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings."

May 'upset' Christians

Gloucester stepped in after Canterbury Cathedral turned location scouts down because they did not want a story about witchcraft taking place in a church.

"We did not think the books posed problems. But other people might take offence and so we had to say no," said Christopher Robinson, spokesman for the Dean of Canterbury.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Filming on the story of the first Harry Potter book will begin in October

"The imagery of witches and warlocks might upset Christians."

A spokeswoman for Warner Brothers said filming on the movie - which is called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone after the American title of the first book - was likely to start in October.

However she said she could not say in which scenes the cathedral would appear.

"We are a couple of months away from filming so our location managers are still working. Gloucester was picked because it is a beautiful cathedral," she said.

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