JK Rowling refutes claims that £4m pub inspired Harry Potter

Harry Potter author Jk Rowling. Picture: Tom Hayward
Harry Potter author Jk Rowling. Picture: Tom Hayward
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JK Rowling has insisted she has never been in a pub which has sold for millions of pounds amid claims that it inspired the Harry Potter books.

The Old Fire House in Exeter, has been sold for a rumoured £4 million - amid speculation that it was the inspiration for the Leaky Cauldron pub in Rowling’s iconic series set in a wizards’s boarding school.

Rowling says she has never visited the pub

Rowling says she has never visited the pub

But author Ms Rowling, who was a student at Exeter University in the 1980s, spoke out on Twitter, saying: “If you want real fantasy, go to an estate agent. Never visited this pub in my life.”

She added: “Red Cow, Black Horse, Mill on the Exe, the Artillery Inn (now sadly gone), but never that one, I’m afraid.”

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Sales agents Charles Darrow insisted it had not specifically marketed the pub based on Ms Rowling’s apparent links, although the marketing campaign for the property was publicised “confidentially”. The firm has previously advertised a modest corner shop and owner’s accommodation in the town of Pennsylvania, Devon, using Ms Rowling’s name, saying she lived nearby as a student.

Agent John Clyne told The Scotsman: “We didn’t market it as linked to her name at all. It is a lot of online talk. It is Exeter, so there are always a lot of links with Harry Potter.”

The pub has been bought by London-based City Pub Group PLC, owned by the father of Made In Chelsea’s Lucy and Tiff Watson.

Fans of the books expressed their dismay that the pub had not been an inspiration for Ms Rowling.

@TheDanCash tweeted: “Noooo I went to Exeter uni and it was a widely known (non-)fact that you frequented here.”


Exeter University’s Harry Potter Society has frequently held events at the pub, claiming that it inspired the wizarding drinking hole, which is located in London in the literary series.

The city’s Gandy Street has also widely been credited with being Ms Rowling’s inspiration for the books’s Diagon Alley.

Author Lucy Banks wrote on Twitter: “Ahhh, now I feel crushed, I love this pub and always liked to imagine it was an inspiration for the Leaky Cauldron! There’s another childish fantasy dashed right there. Was there any truth in Gandy Street being the inspiration for Diagon Alley?”

Numerous pubs and cafes in Edinburgh, where Ms Rowling lives, have also been credited with inspiring locations in the Harry Potter series, including the Elephant House cafe on George IV Bridge, which has a sign in the window claiming it is the “birthplace of Harry Potter”, while Nicolson’s Cafe on the city’s Nicolson Street, now called Spoon, has also laid claim to being the venue where Ms Rowling wrote her first drafts.

Yesterday, it was confirmed that a new pop-up Harry Potter themed bar will open in Edinburgh in February, while a Harry Potter flat, which offers visitors the chance to sleep in the Gryffindor dormitory, has proved so popular that it is already booked out for the entirety of 2018.