How Devon inspired Harry Potter holiday cottages

How Devon inspired Harry Potter

Simon L 20 November 2018

Devon location included in new Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald movie

It’s well-known that Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling spent a lot of time in Devon, studying at the University of Exeter and exploring the surrounding countryside regularly. But did you know just how much of the beautiful region inspired her literary works - and how many Devon place names actually feature in the popular books and films?

Of course, we all know that Devon was where Shuntbumps, a now-defunct broomstick sport, originally rose to popularity (don’t we?), but what about the Quidditch stadium that lies out in the sticks, or the village where many wizarding families reside, or the seaside town that was attacked by a dragon in the 1930s?

Our blog shines the spotlight on the wonderful Devon locations that feature in and provided inspiration for J. K. Rowling’s wonderful Harry Potter book series.


We start in the beautiful cathedral city where Ms Rowling earned her degree in French and Classics: Exeter.

It’s widely believed that the Old Fire House was the inspiration behind magical pub The Leaky Cauldron. Pretty much cemented in Exeter folklore, it came as quite the shock to students, locals and Potter fans alike when, last year, the author proclaimed on Twitter that she’d never even visited the pub!

Old Fire House
© Beccy Shaw

She did, however, go on to claim that she visited pubs including the Red Cow, Black Horse, the Mill on the Exe and the Artillery Inn, so maybe one of these helped shape the look of the wizarding boozer which also acted as the entrance to Diagon Alley…

© 2018 Universal Orlando. All Rights Reserved.

Speaking of the secret street which houses shops including Ollivanders wand shop, Eeylops Owl Emporium and Flourish & Blotts bookshop, it is said to be based on Gandy Street, a colourful and curious lane where olde-worlde buildings house a mismatch of intriguing shops and venues.

Gandy Street

Another landmark location on Diagon Alley is Gringotts Wizarding Bank, which stands imposingly at the end of the street on the corner of two adjoining lanes. The Vaults bar and nightclub bears more than a passing resemblance to the appearance of the Goblin-staffed bank and, you guessed it, stands proud on the end of Gandy Street, on a corner! Surely that’s no coincidence…?

The Vaults
© Beccy Shaw

Speaking of doors, a five-minute walk from Vaults is Cathedral Yard, home to many regal-looking buildings which date back to Tudor times. There’s one building in particular though which caught our eye… 10 Cathedral Close. Also known as The Deanery, the front door of this address has been captured countless times by artists and photographers, with its incredibly eye-catching, decorative 400-year-old studded door made of Devon oak. Fans of the Harry Potter films will notice the resemblance between this entryway and that of the Room of Requirement, located on Hogwarts' seventh floor, which only reveals its entrance when students walk past three times, thinking of what they need.

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The door to nowhere? #exeter

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A couple more tenuous links include that of Exeter Cathedral (left below), which doesn’t half bear a resemblance to Hogwarts’ cavernous Great Hall, and Mardon Hall (right below), which could potentially have been the influence behind the Gryffindor Common Room.

Mardon Hall photo © Ellie Philcox

It’s never been proven, but the University of Exeter’s first student accommodation is home to a large and grand staircase, several large fireplaces and comfy red sofas, while the colour scheme of the Mardon Hall crest is even red and yellow… Coincidence? We’ll let you decide.