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Places in Exeter Every Harry Potter Fan Must Visit

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by Daisy Shirley (subscribe)
(BA Hons) Journalism Student at Nottingham Trent University. Visit my website at
Published July 25th 2017
How did Exeter inspire JK Rowling?
J.K Rowling, one of Exeter University's greatest alumni, gifted the world with her enchanting Harry Potter series, capturing the hearts and minds of people across the world. With 450 million books printed globally in 69 different languages, it seems cracked to believe that her creative works stemmed from the small, exquisite city of Exeter. Nonetheless, café's, bars, shops and streets all across the city were key sources of inspiration for the award-winning author.

Gandy Street

Narrow and cobbled, Gandy street has an uncanny likeliness to Diagon Alley. It even has its very own wizard, unmissable with his pointy hat and fluffy white beard. He calls himself 'wizard' and plays the flute to passersby. Coincidence? I don't think so.

Harry Potter, Gandy Street, Diagon Alley
Gandy Street in Exeter as inspiration for Diagon Alley

The Vaults
The Vaults club that stands on the corner of Gandy street supposedly formed the basis of Gringotts, the Wizarding Bank. When we are first introduced to Gringotts in Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, Rowling describes Gringotts as: 'a snowy white building that towered over the other little shops'. This also happens to describe The Vaults, don't you think?

Vaults, Gringotts, Harry Potter, J.K Rowling, Exeter, Gandy Street
Vaults as the inspiration for Gringotts

The Old Firehouse
Stepping into the courtyard of The Old Firehouse, you can instantly see the connection between this pub and The Leaky Cauldron. Full of flickering fairy lights, glowing candles and barrels of beer, there's no wonder Rowling was inspired by Firehouse; it's charming, full of character and carries a magical ambience.

Firehouse, Exeter, Leaky Cauldron, Harry Potter
The Old Firehouse in Exeter influenced The Leaky Cauldron

There are also many places in the wizarding world, created by Rowling, that sound oddly similar to Exeter's surrounding towns. Ottery St Catchpole (the home of the Weasley, Diggory and Lovegood families) is rumoured to be based on Ottery St Mary and Budleigh Babberton, Horace Slughorn's hometown, is likened to Budleigh Salterton.

Having spent 3 years at university in Exeter, there is no doubt that Rowling was inspired by Exeter; a historic city, full of originality.
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Your Comment
This is an awesome article! I can definitely see the inspiration from Gandy St for Diagon Alley :)
by Chloe Doyle (score: 3|1454) 1844 days ago
Thank you for sharing this. My son loves Harry Potter, and we are going to Exeter in a few days. I'm now going to make a beeline for Gandy Street.
by Tom Fieldhouse (score: 1|78) 1827 days ago
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