Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Number 4 Privet Drive

The first page of the first book.
Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone

And so it began. I've said before that words can hold hidden power to touch us in so many ways. Often it happens suddenly but sometimes the magic is so strong that the spell continues to work forever and we may only realise just how spellbound that we are until later,much later. A seemingly very ordinary person or place can become etched upon our minds and hearts because of a wonderfully written book or a film.

J.K. Rowling signed, 'the book that changed my life.'
Many could have signed underneath, 'Me Too!'

In the case of Harry Potter our lives have been graced by both.

Rubeus Hagrid delivers baby Harry to 4 Privet Drive
Right from the beginning when Rubeus Hagrid dropped off the baby Harry at the suburban address of number 4 Privet Drive this address had entered a special place from which, no matter how it tried, it could never be ordinary again. It would take on a life and meaning much bigger than the house itself could ever be in real life.

The current owners have put the house on the market. Though this little house was not the favourite abode of choice of Harry who much preferred Hogwarts, you can imagine the excitement of the children who knew that Harry had been there.

The real perfectly ordinary house in a perfectly ordinary road.
The film set created at Warners Bros Studio, Leavesden
for the subsequent films
The house in the book and film is at Number 4 Privet Drive, in Little Whingeing, Surrey. This was a clever touch from J.K. Rowling as 'privet' has a wholesome image due to the many lovely English country cottages tucked behind privet hedges, and the quiet well behaved suburban streets, such as those written about by John Betjeman, where the neighbourhoods are kept tidy by well tended privet hedges. And Little Whingeing? Well, you know how snooty folk can be keeping up with the neighbourhood.  

A vintage poster extolling the virtue of suburbia.
The real house, which is actually at 12 Picket Post Close, near Bracknell, Berkshire, is not far from us here in our little village and I was tempted to go and take a peak at it. Growing up I despaired that it seemed all the fair maidens, knights, ghosts and fairies always lived in grand houses in obviously magical places.

Professor Minerva McGonagall as a cat in Privet Drive
Not often did the hero or heroine arrive from an ordinary place. Later I came to appreciate hugely any that did and the writers who gave a magic life to plain things.

The quiet cul-de-sac where 4 Privet Drive resided

The sitting/Dining Room, Kitchen & small garden
The estate agent's brochure does not have any photographs of an under stair cupboard, which the owner admits was not used for the films but instead houses a non-magical ironing board and the toys of her children. 

The main bedroom and the two single bedrooms
There is nothing magical about the house itself, as you can clearly see in these photos. But somehow you do keep expecting Harry to appear. The main bedroom does have a touch of purple about it, but only a tasteful amount. And is that a Gruffalo in one of the children's rooms there?

The Dursley's  purple chintz bedroom in the films
Harry in his under the stairs bedroom, from Vanity Fair 2001
The idea that J.K. Rowling chose to hide the young vulnerable Harry in such a suburban street, in plain sight, so to speak, thrilled me. And I thanked her for that, knowing how it would give hope to so many ordinary children that their own lives could be touched by the magic that many literary sources deny to them.

Homes and Property in their article, say this about the house: full article here:

"The property in Picket Post Close near Reading, known as 4 Privet Drive in the film, was selected out of hundreds of houses around the UK to become the home of Harry's Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley Dursley.

The three-bedroom house in Martins Heron, Bracknell, was cast as the "perfectly ordinary house on a perfectly ordinary street" for the 2001 film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The property’s then owner Sandra Smith was approached by filmmakers who spotted the house and thought it closely resembled the Thirties home in Little Whinging, Surrey described by JK Rowling. Filming took place at the location over two weeks as the property was transformed into the home of the Dursley family.

The Boy Who Lived famously did so in the cupboard-under-the-stairs - during his early years, at least.

Harry's aunt Petunia and uncle Vernon reserved two of four bedrooms in Privet Drive for their odious son Dudley, one for themselves and another for guests. While Harry kept the spiders and the vacuum cleaner company in the cupboard at night. In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone the orphan wizard is quickly moved into “Dudley’s second bedroom” by his rattled relatives after he starts receiving letters addressed to “Harry Potter, The Cupboard Under the Stairs.”

Harry's mail

Harry's mail takes over the sitting room
The current owner has lived there since May 2010 when the house was purchased for £290,000.   Seven years earlier, it was put up for auction with a much higher guide price than its market value thanks to its connection to Harry Potter, but the home failed to sell when the £250,000 reserve price wasn't met - despite receiving a bid of £249,000. "

You can read an interview with the current owner Claire Powder who is blissfully unaware of the owner of Potter having never read the books or seen any but the first film which included their home.  Here:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

There has been a lot of interest in the house. I had to smile when I read the usual warning that, "viewings are strictly by appointment only".  Better to be safe than sorry, Dementors might turn up uninvited like they have before.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This is a perfect excuse to remember some of the moments of 4 Privet Drive, from the first film when the real house was used, and later after the stage set had been built for the films that followed.

The owls are not what they seem ....

Proud and snobby Dursleys at home

Harry and his Uncle

Harry's under stairs cupboard bedroom
The Order of the Phoenix

Dobby visits Harry in his bedroom at Privet Drive

The Dursleys leaving 4 Privet Drive
Harry says goodbye to Hedwig

The Deathly Hallows, The final battle nears,
friends meet at 4 Privet Drive
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry is 16 years old, still underage for a Wizard and unable to use his powers to the full without attracting unwanted attention.  Members of the Order of the Phoenix come to 4 Privet Drive to escort Harry to the Burrow. The rationale behind this was that they couldn't use the Floo Network, they couldn't Apparate, they couldn't use a Portkey, and Harry still had the Trace on him. 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Harry and Hagrid leave Privet Drive for the last time

further Reading:

Well, the books, of course!

But you could start here for more information: Harry Potter Wiki for 4 Privet Drive

Or here, at Pottermore


  1. Hello LeeAnn,

    Thank you for making me remember these books. Although they are in my mind constantly, you managed to remind me of some of the magic I felt when I read them for the first time. :)

    The Periwinkles and the Hogwarts of Riverside are busy moving, furnishing a new house for a friend and preparing things for Halloween. Come and have a look at Hester's autumn wreath, if you like. :)

    Have a beautiful october,

    1. Hello Nina, Thank you for visiting, always a pleasure to see you. I have been travelling but now have time to catch up on your adventures. ;~) x

  2. LeeAnn,
    Another wonderful post. I love Harry and his mates. Fun that the house at Privet Drive is real ... there is hope for all of us! Happy Fall!

    1. Snap, Thank you! It's wonderful I think how we can revisit Potter and still remain enchanted by it. Happy Fall to you also my friend. x

  3. I had no idea it was a real house! What a fun post ... I'm going to have to show it to my daughter. :)

    1. Lovely to see you stop by. I like that it was a real house in the beginning and then a film set on the lot. x

  4. A lovely, interesting post. I thought it was a house on a set.

    1. Hello Polly. You are correct in thinking it is a house on a set, the real house was only used in the first film. You can visit the film set. x

  5. I cannot believe that I still haven't seen all the movies or read the books. ("Gasp!" I know! What's wrong with me?) I have the first 4 books I think. (My ex-sister in law got them for me one Christmas). That's really neat that it's an actual house. That makes it seem all the more magical.

    I've often wished that "Gull Cottage," from the classic black-and-white film, was real.


    1. Kristin, Thank you for visiting. You must read them! But the films are also very charming, and towards the end, quite scary too. Perfect for October!!!

      I love Gull Cottage too, and also Shell Cottage from the Potter films. x

  6. May we display your header on our new site directory? As it is now, the site title (linked back to your home page) is listed, and we think displaying the header will attract more attention. In any event, we hope you will come by and see what is going on at

    1. Hello Jerry, I have had a look at your listing and am happy to have been included, and you may link with our header. Thank you!

    2. Thank you so very much for giving permission. You can see your linked header under Home Improvement, Jewelry and the United Kingdom. If you could say something (preferably good) about here and there, I would greatly appreciate it.

  7. My 10 yr. old gr-daughter just finished all the books. She cried at the scene when Harry sacrifices himself. I loved absolutely loved how you gave readers a view of tidy houses on a quiet street, normal in all ways. Thank you!


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