When the Harry Potter series first hit shelves in 1997, readers around the world eagerly began trying to identify the real-life landmarks that may have inspired the wizarding world. King's Cross was home to the infamous Platform 9 3/4. Hogwarts drew comparisons to George Heriot's School (located in Edinburgh, Scotland) and a number of schools and cathedrals scattered throughout Cambridge and Oxford. Harry Potter: A History Of Magic, an exhibit dedicated to the real history of magic and alchemy, even debuted last year at the British Library in London, marking the 20th anniversary of the series and drawing fans from across the world anxious to view the magical artifacts comprising their favorite fantasy canon. But J.K. Rowling just cleared up one long-standing rumor - and Exeter students are, uh, bummed, to say the least.
For decades, the inspiration for The Leaky Cauldron, a London wizarding pub and inn, has been attributed to Exeter's Old Fire House pub. The Leaky Cauldron, located on Charing Cross Road, is the oldest pub in London, according to Potter canon. Built in the 1500s by Daisy Dodderidge, The Leaky Cauldron also serves as the entrance to Diagon Alley, a popular shopping area for witches and wizards. "For a famous place, it was very dark and shabby," wrote Rowling of the Leaky Cauldron in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. The small, dingy and beloved pub belied a well-kept cluster of rooms on the second floor of the Cauldron, available to magic folks seeking refuge or simply a bed after a long night of, uh, imbibing.
The Old Fire House, meanwhile, is a long-standing favorite of Exeter students and locals, serving local ales and traditional pub food. It operated as an actual fire house between the mid-1800s and 1930s, reports DevonLive It entered its current iteration as The Old Fire House in 1986. Bunting and perennial strands of twinkly lights lend the dark, wooden bar a homey atmosphere.
It's easy to begin identifying shared qualities between The Old Fire House and the Leaky Cauldron. So easy, in fact, that Exeter University's Harry Potter society even holds meetings at the local watering hole.
Recently, news began circulating that The Old Fire House property had been sold, for an amount that's been rumored in the multi-millions. It's unclear whether Rowling's suppose involvement with the Fire House affected the price. That's when DevonLive tweeted this fun headline:
Which prompted Rowling herself to answer with, uh, this:
Exeter's Harry Potter Society then waded in with their own palpably disappointed response:
Apparently, the rumor stemmed from Rowling's University of Exeter attendance. Generations of Exeter students have since visited The Old Fire House under the assumption that the fantasy writer was a regular drinker there. So where does inspiration for The Leaky Cauldron come from?
Rowling was quick to set the record straight once despondent students began reaching out. So will these newly-revealed inspirations experience a flock of magic-obsessed muggles? We'll just have to wait and see.
Just kidding, of course they will.