Harry Potter: 25 Interesting Things You Never Knew About Hogwarts

It’s the dream school we all wished we could attend. Hogwarts is arguably the heart of the Harry Potter saga, where much of the action takes place, and the relationships between our favorite characters developed. It is a huge part of what makes J.K. Rowling’s universe, well, magical. From the dungeons that hold secrets untold to the room of requirement that can fulfill your every need, Hogwarts is the home away from home every child who read Rowling’s books, or who saw the movies, craved. Every step is an adventure where you never truly know what you will encounter next—owls soaring overhead, on their separate ways to deliver letters or parcels to students and professors; ghosts and poltergeists alike who waft through the halls like silent (or raucous) breezes, chilling the air behind them; students laughing, studying for their next potion exam; and professors, robes elegant or dramatic, swaying as they perform magic for, or lecture, their students.

We all wanted to sit on that stool, feeling our hearts race as the Sorting Hat was placed upon our heads, waiting with baited breath to see if we would be sorted into our favorite house. Even though I love to eat pumpkin, pumpkin juice always sounded a bit wretched, and yet I would happily have imbibed a goblet a day if it meant 11 year old me got to attend Hogwarts. Of course, back then I didn’t know about Ilvermorny, but that’s another story entirely. Let’s move on, and hopefully we'll shed some new light on our favorite magical school.

25 Slytherin's Descendant Founded Ilvermorny


Unfortunately, Salazar Slytherin’s hatred of muggles did not die with him. But I’m getting ahead of myself. One of Slytherin’s descendants, Isolt Sayre, an Irishwoman, ended up in North America, and went on to found the American school of witchcraft and wizardry, Ilvermorny.

She wanted to create a school as she had never been able to attend Hogwarts, but had grown up hearing about it from her (crazy) aunt, which brings us back to Slytherin’s hatred of muggles.

Isolt’s aunt took out her parents because she saw how they interacted freely with muggles, and was terrified her niece would grow up and marry a muggle, and thus tarnish the bloodline. When Isolt was old enough, she escaped to America, and went on to found the school.

24 Godric Opposed Muggle Discrimination


We know for certain that Salazar Slytherin did not believe that wizards and witches who were born of muggle parents, or “mud-bloods” as someone prejudiced like Malfoy might say, belonged in the school of witchcraft and wizardry. Whatever the reasoning for his prejudice (if you want to say prejudice has “reasoning”), you probably already know it was over this disagreement that Slytherin ends up leaving the school, and his friends, the fellow founders, behind. However, his departure was directly because of an argument he had with Godric over the issue. Godric fiercely defended any wizard or witch’s right to achieve an education, and he would continue to fight for muggle rights within the wizarding community. Without Godric Gryffindor’s strong voice for muggle equality, who knows how Hogwarts might have ended up?

Art By Annettasassi.

23 Hogwarts Is The Most Haunted Place In The World


So, according to the Harry Potter mythos, Hogwarts is the most haunted location in all of Britain. Similarly, Britain has the most hauntings in the entire world. Ergo, Hogwarts is the most haunted location out of the whole wide globe.

If you think about the numerous ghosts and poltergeists that walk (casually float?) through the halls of the school, this begins to make sense.

There are the ghosts that represent each of the houses. Gryffindor has the infamous Nearly-Headless Nick, Or Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington as he prefers to be called. Slytherin has the Bloody Baron, whose garments are stained with silver blood. Ravenclaw has the daughter of the founder itself as their ghost, Helena Ravenclaw, or the Grey Lady. Lastly, Hufflepuff has the Fat Friar, a genial ghost who was once part of the clergy, but was put to death for too easily curing peasants of the pox.

22 The Sorting Hat Contains The Intelligence Of All The Founders


You might think of the Sorting Hat as an affable, if somewhat worn, wizard hat. You might even know that it was Godric’s hat, as the legend goes. However, did you know that the wide-brimmed hat contains the intelligence of all the founders? Presumably, this happened when the founders enchanted the thing to give it life, so to speak. They needed to have an intelligent object that could determine placement of students for the foreseeable future, so what better way to do so than to give it the actual minds of the founders themselves? It’s also quite talented at peeking into the minds of those who wear it, or Legilimency, as that talent is called. This is how it is able to judge a student, and determine their best location.

21 Peeves Isn't A Ghost


Nope, nope, nope, and one more nope. Peeves is not, technically, a ghost at all. He is a poltergeist, which, in the world of Harry Potter, a poltergeist does not a ghost make. Ghosts are wizards and witches (no muggles allowed!) who passed on, but forsook a chance at the afterlife for a pale imitation of the life they left behind.

A poltergeist is energy that gathers and forms from external stimuli.

In Hogwart’s case, it was the large emotional baggage and magical talent of a congregation of young witches and wizards over the centuries. Thus, Peeves was born, so to speak, where he continues to torment the young students, the professors, and, most assuredly, the groundskeeper and caretaker of Hogwarts to this very day.

20 There Have Been Multiple Attempts To Remove Peeves


Oh, Peeves. A mischief-maker, shelf over-turner, and overall chaos-inducer, he is more of a force than anything else. It seems that his entire existence at Hogwarts was similar. Allow the stage to be set. The year is 1876 and the caretaker is Rancorous Carpe. He tried (and failed) to bait Peeves into a trap with a multitude of weapons.

He assumed these weapons would draw dear Peeves. He was right, But the trap couldn’t hold Peeves.

He escaped, armed to the teeth, and proceeded to have a three-day standoff, which only ended when the Headmistress, Eupraxia Mole, granted Peeves extra rights, like swimming in toilets and getting first take at stale bread to throw at students, and a new hat.

19 Candles Are Used Because Light Bulbs Won't Work


Technology does not work in Hogwarts. Can you even imagine? Of course,, you most likely can picture it. Heck, you could probably even live without the tech that makes our lives so convenient, if it came down to it, but, jeez, at what cost?

I mean, do you know how I unwind at night? I take my handy-dandy laptop up to bed (I know, I know—tech is bad before bed, but what can I say? I’m a rebel), and I watch Star Trek Next Gen or, if I need something short and sweet, Friends. When I cook? My phone is playing my sweet tunes, so I can dance simultaneously and play a dangerous game of will-I-drop-the-knife-on-my-foot. Hogwarts magic, apparently, interferes with a lot of technology, even light bulbs. So that’s why everything has the delicate ambiance of a billion floating candles.

18 Merlin Was In Slytherin


When you think of Merlin, what first comes to your mind? Is it someone shouting in a burly voice, “Merlin’s Beard?” Or maybe it’s Ron, panicking, fumbling, screaming something about, “Merlin’s pants” or “underpants,” depending. Let’s say that just one more time, for emphasis. “Merlin’s pants!”

Ahem. Merlin was an influential and powerful wizard that left his mark (and colorful expressions) upon the wizarding world.

When you think of notable wizards, especially good wizards, you may not necessarily think of Slytherin, and yet, Merlin was in house Slytherin.

Slytherin students are cunning, ambitious, and shrewd—all characteristics that go hand in hand with leadership, so it actually makes sense that a wizard like Merlin would belong to the house. We learn this on Pottermore where you can see an award Dumbledore won, The First Class medal, which is green, to represent Merlin’s Hogwarts House.

Art by Piinx.

17 Hogwarts Has Only Closed Once


That is right, not even Voldemort could shut Hogwarts down at the finale. After the battle, things just kept plugging along. However, in 1926, the danger that Grindelwald posed to the students was deemed so great, that the Headmaster made the difficult decision to send the children home early. We know that the school almost closed in the mid 1940’s due to Tom Riddle opening the Chamber of Secrets and releasing the Basilisk inside. However, when the Headmaster, Armando Dippet, mentioned to Tom that the school would be forced to shut if the attacks continued, Tom ceased his actions to ensure the school would remain open. It was also Armando Dippet who made the difficult decision in 1926 to shut the school, to best protect the young students.

16 Hogwarts Was Founded In 990


Hogwarts is old. Super, super old. England had just really become a thing only that very century (before it had been warring kingdoms, sorta). All Harry Potter fans know this particular story. The four founders, Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin, came together with a vision of teaching young wizards and witches the many ways of magic. Each founder had something unique to offer (and I have it on good authority that Helga was, in fact, an excellent cook, which often brought people together in unification).

The founders came to heads over whether or not the school should include muggle-born magic wielders. Helga, Rowena and Godric all believed that everyone should be welcome, and, as we know, Slytherin left, probably slamming the door on his way out.

15 Hogwarts Is Sentient


We are not entirely certain as to why, but Hogwarts seems to have developed a form of sentience over the centuries—or so fans think. Many people cite the fact that it sealed Dolores Umbridge into the Headmaster’s Tower, effectively trapping her, as evidence of its cognitive abilities. Many think that its advanced age (remember—it’s roughly 1030 years old), coupled with its enchanted origins, and that it has been surrounded by the intense magic and emotional fluctuation of children and teens, have led to its basic levels of perception and agency. After all, stranger things have happened (and seem to be acutely aware) at Hogwarts. Remember, wands might have limited sentience, the Sorting Hat can sing and debate your proper house with you, and letters from home might scream bloody murder at you in front of the entire dining hall.

14 The Motto Means Never Tickle A Sleeping Dragon


The Latin motto first appeared on the cover of one of the novels and then on some official Fan Club material.

It states, “Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus,” which means, “Never tickle sleeping dragons,” or, “never tickle a sleeping dragon.”

As someone who most assuredly does not speak Latin, I cannot verify the quantity of dragons in the expression, but J.K. Rowling created it, in essence, to amuse herself. She stated that British schools often have Latin mottos, and they usually have to do with pride, or nobility, or some such. To turn that on its head, she created a motto that offered some “practical advice.” Practical it may be, but also pretty obvious. I mean, don’t get close to a sleeping dragon in general is a pretty good rule, but also, if you tickle it, it might blow a fireball at you.

13 Rowena Created The Moving Staircases


She was the best of witches, and, much like Hermione, the brightest of her generation. One of her strongest talents was casting charms. She could enchant like no other in her era.

It is long suspected that Rowena Ravenclaw, a Scottish witch, designed the moving staircases, and helped Hogwarts to appear ever shifting and changing.

She might have done this as a means of protecting the children, or perhaps to help them navigate and learn the ways of magic quickly. Just as an aside, it is speculated that Ravenclaw is Rowena’s married name, as her daughter shares the surname, and children typically took their fathers names. Rowena died of a broken heart when her daughter was murdered, which may be why Helena haunts the grounds even when Harry attends the school.

12 One Of The Founders Was A Duelist


I am so not talking about wizard dueling, either. Godric lived during the period of the great Anglo-Saxon king Æthelred or “The Unready” (which, by the way, does not mean what it does in modern English, but rather is a pun on well-advised), which was a long, long time ago. It was a war-ish time.

There was a lot of death and murder and, well, dueling, going on in general.

Godric, and others at the time, intermingled with muggle society, so it was sort of necessity that he learn and master the craft. His sword (yes, that sword), was so amazing that the goblin who made it tried to steal it back, and even claimed that Godric himself was the one to steal it. He hadn’t, and he got the darned thing back.

11 There Have Been Two Hatstalls At Hogwarts


Can you even imagine this? There you are, your heart fluttering as all eyes stare directly at you. It is your big moment. Your entire 11 year life has been leading up to this precise moment. There comes the Sorting Hat, somewhat old, a little rumpled, but majestic at the same time. The hat descends and lays heavily about your small ears. You wait. Maybe you argue with it a bit as it mumbles to itself over where you go. You wait some more. And more. And more. Finally, over five minutes later, it finally cries out a house.

There are only two hatstalls that we know of for certain—McGonagall and Pettigrew.

McGonagall’s place between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw was hotly debated while the hat struggled with Pettigrew, debating between Gryffindor and Slytherin.

10 Students Pay No Tuition!


Pack your bags, college age students! We are all going to Hogwarts and demanding they teach us. Crippling student debt is a thing of the past! Ah, if only. I suppose saying that tuition is free is a bit of a lie. Someone has to pay for it all, for the teachers, the food, the house elves who have organized themselves thanks to S.P.E.W. and now collect a wage, and for the maintenance of the grounds. That someone is the Ministry of Magic. This gives wizards and witches from all backgrounds an equal chance at developing their talents as they all get the same education (though, I suppose that little snots like Draco have better, more expensive equipment—but, thankfully, that can’t compensate for talent).

9 Helga Brought In The House Elves To Help Them


The morals of over one thousand years ago were, unfortunately, not up to modern standards, so Helga Hufflepuff brought House Elves into Hogwarts to ensure she could look after their wellbeing. At the school, the house elves could be ensured continuous work in the school’s kitchens and that the conditions they labored under would never be extreme, or, really, anything other than decent. Of course, only about 100 house elves cooking for one thousand students and faculty probably is not easy, but it is speculative that the school attracted so many students at first. It was doubtless the best that Helga could offer them at the time (again, over a thousand years ago). Frankly, it was probably the most anyone had ever thought of house elves until Hermione and S.P.E.W. came along.

8 Professor Binns May Not Know His Fate


We are all familiar with our favorite (and only) ghostly professor at Hogwarts. That’s right! It’s professor Cuthbert Binns. He is known as the most boring of all the professors, partly due to his sonorous voice, but also to the fact that his lesson plans consist of simply reading his extensive history notes to the class, verbatim. He might be quite shocking to see if you are not expecting your professor to enter through the chalkboard, but not even that little surprise can combat just how very, very, very boring he is.

The most interesting thing about him might just be the fact he may not know he is gone.

He fell asleep one day, died, and simply got back up to continue teaching when it was time.

7 There Is A Slug Pit


I mean…there is not much to say here. There is not much information regarding this slug pit other than it exists, and it is a dungeon. Let us take a moment to imagine being tossed into a dungeon, say, in the year 1678, only to find a literal hole in the ground, filled with slugs.

These are magical slugs, so who can say how big or extra slimy they are? Who can guess their lifespan?

Will they die if you accidentally squish one in the fall, or when you’re dancing about, trying to avoid touching them? Do they regenerate in a whirl of their own goopy snot trails? Sorry—I grossed even myself out with that one. Where did we learn about this little magical tidbit of information? The Chamber of Secrets video game of all places.

6 Oxford Was Used As Hogwarts During Filming


You may have heard this before if you are a huge Harry Potter buff, but, if you are like me, then you may have never really looked into movie trivia. Not only was Oxford extensively used for the filming, but you can actually visit several of the locations that the characters walked at the school itself. The Bodleian library served both as the infirmary and the library Harry sneaks through, late at night. You can visit where Draco was turned into a ferret in the New College Cloisters, or perhaps you prefer to explore the numerous staircases, or the great dining hall. You can also see the real "living" statues (or grotesques, as they are called at Oxford) that came to life to defend Hogwarts!

5 Hogwarts Houses 1,000 Students


In the year 2000, J.K. Rowling spoke to Scholastic, a famous children’s publishing house, in an interview about the Harry Potter series. A student asked her how many children attend Hogwarts annually and the answer she gave was roughly one thousand students. As there are seven years of learning, that puts each year at about 143 students. Divide that by four, and you have your average house size per year, at roughly 36 students.

Some fans debate this number, as they say it is too high.

They argue that it would be too difficult for a professor to manage a double load of students during a single period. Can you imagine Snape having to wrangle 71 or 72 students simultaneously? Then again, Snape was renowned for being tough, so maybe he’d be okay.

4 There Are 142 Staircases


So, it stands to reason that a series of buildings that have up to seven stories will need a lot of staircases, but did you know the exact number is 142? You remember, of course, that the staircases are known for moving at unpredictable schedules. I remember that being one of the things I was so excited to see in the movies—these giant staircases, carved from stone and majestically massive, just breaking free from walls, perhaps a few flakes of mortar falling, as the stones realigned themselves some place entirely new. Nothing screams magic, after all, like a house ricocheting into a new position whenever it decides to torment a first year, and make them late to potions class. Which, in fact, brings me to my next point!

3 Hogwarts Is In Scotland, Not England


Yes, the school that many of us, especially those of us who are American, associate with England is actually Scottish (as was Rowena, as we’ve mentioned. But did you know that Helga was Welsh?). Insert shocked faced emoji here.

We may associate Hogwarts with Platform nine and three-quarters, which is most obviously in London.

We also think of Harry himself as being English, with a crisp English accent (not quite RP, not quite cockney, but definitely London. Orrrrr Bristol.). Hermione has a similar accent, and Ron (at least in the movies, which is what I am entirely basing these examinations on) is a cockney. All English. And while we know that plenty of people from around the UK attend Hogwarts, it can be easy to base our assumptions on the main three, and the professors.

2 The Potions Class Was Partly Filmed In Lacock Abbey


You know one of the really cool things about the United Kingdom, and, well, Europe in general? It has some really old, really cool buildings that have stood for actual centuries. The United States was founded less than three centuries ago and Lacock Abbey has been around an extra five hundred years.

They filmed part of a movie in it because, not only is it still standing, it is in really good condition.

So, they filmed scenes from the first movie here, specifically the ones depicting the potion classes (which would be replaced by a set in later movies). The building has quite tall windows, so, to make it seem like the students were underground in a dungeon, the windows were blocked. Between pieces of pickled animal parts and high windows, I know which I would rather see in class.

1 We All Went To Hogwarts


If you read the series as a child, you very well may have waited for your letter in the mail when you turned eleven. You may have stayed up each night, excited to finally get to experience the magic you read about. Unfortunately for us, the world we live in does not truly contain a Hogwarts. It’s a crushing blow to some of us, but we have hopefully all learned to live with the pain.

But that’s all about to change. J.K. Rowling has said—well, tweeted—that each of us, yes, every single one, went to Hogwarts. And she has a point. We all walked its magical halls. We stood beside Harry as he faced trial after trial. We were there when he died, and when he came back. We all held Dobby’s hand when he died, and we rejoiced when Bellatrix fell. We were there.

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Harry Potter: 25 Interesting Things You Never Knew About Hogwarts