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"One thing was certain: of all the teachers' offices Harry had visited so far this year, Dumbledore's was by far the most interesting... It was a large and beautiful circular room, full of funny little noises. A number of curious silver instruments stood on spindle-legged tables, whirring and emitting little puffs of smoke. The walls were covered with portraits of old headmasters and headmistresses, all of whom were snoozing gently in their frames. There was also an enormous, claw-footed desk, and, sitting on a shelf behind it, a shabby, tainted wizard's hat — the Sorting Hat."
— Harry Potter viewing the Headmaster's office for the first time[src]

The Headmaster's office[1] (or Headmistress's office)[2] was the office in Hogwarts Castle in which the current Headmaster or Headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry worked during the school year.

It was located in the Headmaster's Tower, accessed through Gargoyle Corridor. Although this had never been mentioned, it was entirely likely that the residence of the Headmaster was adjacent to the office.

It was reached by means of a circular, moving stone staircase, which in turn was concealed by a gargoyle on the third floor. The gargoyle would step aside in response to a password, though the Headmaster was capable of overriding the password if, for any reason, they desired that it would not work.[3][4]



Like the Gryffindor Tower and Slytherin Dungeon, the Headmaster's tower required a password from anyone who wished to gain entry to the room. The tower was guarded by a large and ugly stone gargoyle, which rarely talked but was capable of doing so.[5]

Interior of the room

The interior of the office

The Headmaster's office itself was a large circular room with many windows and many portraits of old Headmasters and Headmistresses. The portrait of the immediate predecessor of the current Headmaster or Headmistress hung behind the Head's desk. It was suggested that this was the largest of the paintings in the room, which, in turn, suggested that the paintings shrank by some degree once it was no longer the portrait of the immediate predecessor of the current Headmaster or Headmistress.[3]

It should be noted that despite Severus Snape being Headmaster and having access to the office, he did not have a portrait. Eventually one was installed in tribute to his brave deeds after Voldemort's ultimate defeat.[6] In addition to its duties as the office for the Headmaster, the Head's Tower was the permanent home of the Sorting Hat, which belonged, originally, to Godric Gryffindor, one of the four founders.[3]


Early years

It is unknown what events took place in the office in the early years of the school, but it can be presumed that it was used by the previous Headmasters and Headmistresses such as First Headmaster of Hogwarts (early 11th century), Phyllida Spore (sometime before 1408), Edessa Sakndenberg (sometime before 1503), Vindictus Viridian (sometime before 1703), Ambrose Swott (?-1724), Dilys Derwent (1741-1768), Unidentified Professor (1790s), Phineas Nigellus Black (sometime in the late 19th century to before 1926), and Armando Dippet (sometime in the early 20th century) as all of their portraits hung in the office.

Other Headmasters who had used the office (though the specific time period of this is unknown) included Basil Fronsac, Dexter Fortescue, Everard, Heliotrope Wilkins, Quintin Trimble, Unidentified Headmaster, Unidentified Headmistress, Vulpus, Limebert, Walter Aragon, and Unidentified Chessmasters and Headmasters of Hogwarts.


In Harry's second year, a memory of Tom Riddle's reveals the Headmaster's office as it had been in 1943: the time of Professor Dippet, the Headmaster preceding Dumbledore. In the office, Dippet and Riddle discussed the Chamber of Secrets and whether the school was likely to be closed.[7]


"He cast a wary eye around the sleeping witches and wizards on the walls. Surely it couldn’t hurt if he took the hat down and tried it on again? Just to see… just to make sure it had put him in the right House — He walked quietly around the desk, lifted the hat from its shelf, and lowered it slowly onto his head. It was much too large and slipped down over his eyes, just as it had done the last time he’d put it on. Harry stared at the black inside of the hat, waiting."
— Harry trying on the Sorting Hat in the Headmaster's office[src]

Fawkes sits on his perch in the Headmaster's office in 1992

Harry first entered the office in 1992 when he had just rather literally tripped over the petrified body of Justin Finch-Fletchley. Professor McGonagall, the first on the scene, said nothing in response to Harry's pleas of innocence, except to say that it was out of her hands. She proceeded to a gargoyle in the halls, and uttered the password "Sherbet Lemon", whereupon the gargoyle leapt aside, revealing a slowly ascending circular staircase. Reaching the top of this, they found an oaken double door. Professor McGonagall left Harry there.[5]

Harry saw that the room contained a vast number of portraits of past headmasters, all evidently asleep; many spindly tables with intricate silvery devices upon them; and the Sorting Hat resting on a shelf. After exchanging some words with the Sorting Hat, Harry notices a very ill-looking bird on a perch behind the door; as he watches; aghast, the bird catches fire. Professor Dumbledore, then entering, tells Harry that the bird, Fawkes, is a Phoenix, and that is his method of immortality; he will shortly be reborn from his own ashes. Hagrid then enters and says Harry is innocent, to which Dumbledore says he already thinks so.[3]


"A shallow stone basin lay there, with odd carvings around the edge: runes and symbols that Harry did not recognise. The silvery light was coming from the basin’s contents, which were like nothing Harry had ever seen before. He could not tell whether the substance was liquid or gas. It was a bright, whitish silver, and it was moving ceaselessly; the surface of it became ruffled like water beneath wind, and then, like clouds, separated and swirled smoothly. It looked like light made liquid — or like wind made solid — Harry couldn’t make up his mind."
— Harry viewing the Pensieve in the Headmaster's office[src]

Harry in the Headmaster's office

In 1995, Harry again visited the headmaster's office, finding another artefact of Dumbledore's: a Pensieve.[8]

During Harry's fifth year in 1995, Professor McGonagall again took Harry to the Headmaster's office, this time immediately after Harry had seen a frightening vision of Mr Weasley being attacked by Voldemort's snake, Nagini in the Department of Mysteries. As they approach the office doors, Harry heard a large number of voices all talking at once, but when the doors open, there was nobody there except Dumbledore himself. Over the course of the next few minutes, it became apparent that Dumbledore had been speaking with, and apparently receiving information and advice from, the portraits, even though they appear to be sleeping.[9]

The evidence for this is that he addressed two of the portraits, who immediately awoke, and sent them off to gather information. Harry also thought that many of the portraits appeared to be simply pretending to sleep. Dumbledore also made use of one of the small devices on the spindly tables, to determine something about the snake which had attacked Mr Weasley.[9]

Dumbledore's office just prior to his escape from Hogwarts

In 1996, Cornelius Fudge attempted to put Dumbledore under arrest and take him to Azkaban. The attempt failed, and Dumbledore knocked out Dolores Umbridge, Fudge, Kingsley Shacklebolt, and John Dawlish and, shortly thereafter, departed. The portraits of the previous Headmasters and Headmistresses were not feigning slumber, but were fully alert and attentive to the interrogation taking place. Many of them were opposed to Fudge's attempt to interfere with Hogwarts, via underhanded methods, and some even snarled at him when he attempted to arrest Dumbledore. One or two of the portraits were even making rude hand gestures at Fudge.

After the brief skirmish,[1] Umbridge was appointed Headmistress by the Ministry, but the Headmaster's office remained sealed to her; evidently the school itself did not recognise her authority. After her attempts to enter failed, she was forced to use her assigned office with an added plaque "Headmistress" as compensation.[10]

Dumbledore showing Harry the prophecy in the trashed office

Later in that same year, when the Ministry was forced to recognise that Voldemort had returned, at the end of that year, Dumbledore was re-instated as headmaster. Harry, sent to the Headmaster's office by Portkey, realised that the damage that had occurred in Dumbledore's abortive arrest had somehow been repaired. Dumbledore himself arrived shortly by means of the Floo Network.

In the ensuing, rather heated, discussion, Harry destroyed one of the spindly tables and the instrument sitting upon it, as well as tossing a Lunascope into the fireplace. In this discussion, Dumbledore explained to Harry Potter the contents of the prophecy made by Sybill Trelawney, and its effects on Harry for the first time.[11]


"The circular office looked just as it always did; the delicate silver instruments stood on spindle-legged tables, puffing smoke and whirring; portraits of previous headmasters and headmistresses dozed in their frames, and Dumbledore’s magnificent phoenix, Fawkes, stood on his perch behind the door, watching Harry with bright interest. It did not even look as though Dumbledore had cleared a space for duelling practice."
— Harry begins his private lessons with Dumbledore[src]

Dumbledore showing Harry Potter a memory of Tom Riddle's past

Another while later, in the summer of 1996, Albus Dumbledore used Godric Gryffindor's Sword to destroy one of Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes, Marvolo Gaunt's Ring, which he had retrieved in the Gaunt Shack. Between the latter half of 1996, and the first half of 1997, Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter had a series of private lessons in the office.

During these lessons, the two used Albus Dumbledore's Pensieve to delve into memories pertaining to Tom Marvolo Riddle in an attempt to discover a weakness. Together, the pair formulated a plan to bring down the Dark Lord. Instead of an instrument, one of the tables contains, at various times, artefacts of Tom Riddle's early life.[12][13][14][15][16]

At the end of that year, after Dumbledore's death, a large portrait of him. asleep, appeared in the headmaster's office. The portrait was already present when Professor McGonagall summoned the Heads of House to discuss the future of Hogwarts, mere hours after Dumbledore had died, and without anyone else having been in the office.[17]


"But when Harry burst into the circular office he found a change. The portraits that hung all around the walls were empty. Not a single headmaster or headmistress remained to see him; all, it seemed, had flitted away, charging through the paintings that lined the castle, so that they could have a clear view of what was going on. Harry glanced hopelessly at Dumbledore’s deserted frame, which hung directly behind the headmaster’s chair, then turned his back on it. The stone Pensieve lay in the cabinet where it had always been: Harry heaved it onto the desk and poured Snape’s memories into the wide basin with its runic markings around the edge. To escape into someone else’s head would be a blessed relief..."
— Harry viewing Snape's memories during the one-hour armistice[src]

As the 1997–1998 school year started, Severus Snape rose to the post of Headmaster under the Death Eaters controlled Ministry. and finally vacated his old office. It was in here where he conversed with the portraits of Dumbledore and Phineas Nigellus Black in order to aid Harry's quest in defeating Voldemort.[18] Snape apparently spent much of his time as headmaster in the office, as he rarely showed himself in front of the school's residence.[19]

Harry surfacing from the Pensieve in Dumbledore's office after viewing Snape's memories

In 1998, during the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry Potter made use of the Pensieve, which was stored in the Headmaster's Tower, to learn the truth about what he was supposed to do to defeat Lord Voldemort entirely.[18]

At the end of the battle, Harry, Ron, and Hermione went to the Headmaster's office, and the gargoyle (who had been a rather battered by the battle) let them in without a password. Upon entering, they were greeted with applause by the portraits. Harry informed the portrait of Dumbledore that he dropped the Resurrection Stone somewhere in the Forbidden Forest, and that he didn't know where and he wasn't planning to look for it, to which the portrait of Dumbledore agreed. He then mentioned that he was going to keep the Cloak of Invisibility until it was his time, upon which he would pass it down.[6]

He then decided that he was happier with his old wand rather than the Elder Wand, and so he used the Elder Wand to repair the broken halves of his holly and phoenix feather wand. Harry then decided to put the Elder Wand back into its late master's tomb, and then when he died a natural death, the wand's power would be broken. Ron was at first reluctant at this decision, but Hermione agreed, and Harry pointed out that the wand was more trouble than it was worth, and that he had had enough trouble for a lifetime.[6]


Albus Dumbledore: "But you just got here. Surely, you didn't sneak into the Headmistress's office just so you could scamper off."
Ivy Warrington: "We came to use the Pensieve, sir. I have a memory I need to see... one I seem to have forgotten."
Albus Dumbledore: "Ah, I see. In that case, you might want to check the cupboard against the far wall."
Ivy Warrington: "Thank you, sir!"
Albus Dumbledore: "You're most welcome. But a word of warning: a rather troublesome creature has taken up residence in that cupboard. Proceed with caution."
— Albus Dumbledore and Ivy Warrington[src]

Ivy Warrington, Daniel Page and their friend sneaked into the Headmistress's office during the 2008–2009 school year to use the Pensieve to look at the memory inside Ivy's locket. In order to get the password required to enter ("Wronski Feint"), Gossamer had travelled to the portraits inside the office and spoken to the former Headmasters, including Albus Dumbledore. Dumbledore greeted the students once they were in, and warned them of a creature in the cupboard, which was a Boggart assuming the form of a dragon, and then an evil version of Ivy herself before being defeated. They then viewed the damaged memory of Ivy casting the Vanishing Spell on her sister Winifred, which they believed.[2]

Ivy Warrington, Daniel Page, their friend, Ivy's grandmother and McGonagall within the Headmistress's office

Due to Ivy's constant disappearance, Headmistress McGonagall contacted Ivy's grandmother and had the three students meet her in the office. She told them the true story, which was that Winifred accidentally Vanished herself, and the grandmother cast a Memory Charm on Ivy to put her out of the misery, but retrieved the most important memory and put it in Ivy's locket, albeit with some damage due to the hurry.[2]


The same three students were summoned to the Headmistress's office in the 2010–2011 school year to cooperate with the Ministry's investigation of the Nocturnal Order of Tricks and Magical Exhibitions and their recent attack in Hogsmeade. They met Linderina Crane, the lead investigator of the matter and had their wands examined. Crane also announced her suspicion of a Hogwarts professor being involved, and asked for access to almost everything in the school.[2]


Harry conversing with the portrait of Albus Dumbledore

In 2020, Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy stole an experimental Time-Turner from the British Ministry of Magic. During this time, Harry conversed with the portrait of Albus Dumbledore that was within the Headmaster's office. Harry aired decades of pent-up emotion left over from the horrors of his childhood, and Dumbledore reassured him that he did what he though was best for Harry's well being at the time. The portrait then advised him to see Albus as he was.

After Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy returned from the Second Task and created the third timeline. Harry Potter, Ginny Weasley, and Draco Malfoy busted them with the help of Moaning Myrtle. Professor McGonagall escorted them to this room to scold them off for illegally jumping off the Hogwarts Express to break in and steal a Time-Turner from the Ministry of Magic, causing the disappearances of loads of people including Harry Potter himself in the second alternative timeline. Then, she stripped them of various trips to Hogsmeade and vacations, and gave them detention for the rest of that year.[20]


Albus Dumbledore's tenure as Headmaster

In Albus Dumbledore's day, the office had also played host to a number of spindly tables upon which were set delicate looking silver instruments that whirred and emitted small puffs of smoke, as well as an incredible collection of books, which made up Dumbledore's private library,[3] his Pensieve,[8] and Fawkes the phoenix.[3] It can be assumed that the décor of the office changed with the changing of the school heads.


The Headmaster's office, like so many things in Hogwarts, seemed to have a will of its own. In 1996, Dolores Umbridge was unable to gain entry to the office after she was announced the new Headmistress of Hogwarts;[10] Phineas Nigellus Black, one of the previous Headmasters of Hogwarts, explained that this was because the "room is barred to all but the rightful headmaster",[11] suggesting that even though the Ministry officially decreed Umbridge as Headmistress, Hogwarts itself did not recognise her as such.

Known passwords to enter the Headmaster's office

Behind the scenes

In the films

  • From the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets onwards, the Stairwell Gargoyle in the films was depicted as golden and resembling a griffin (possibly in allusion to the name Gryffindor, etymologically derived from the French for "golden griffin", or a simpler pun between the name Gryffindor and being a "griffin door" to the Office).
  • The office as shown in the films is divided into three main areas as well as a loft. The first area of the office contains the Headmaster's portraits as well as cabinets, and tables filled with Dumbledore's instruments. There is also a fireplace. The second area contains the Headmaster's desk and chair and is surrounded by bookcases. The third area is a small sitting room behind the desk. The loft, accessed by flights of steps on both sides of the desk area, contains Dumbledore's telescope. There is also another small flight of steps on the loft that lead even higher up, providing a bird's eye view of the office.
  • Although the overall layout of the office remained unchanged throughout the films, the set received minor modifications in nearly every film:
  • The curio cabinets in the office were modified between the second and fourth films. In the second film the cabinets were had grilles in the doors, in the fourth and subsequent films the grilles have been removed and replaced by glass. The Penseive cabinet is also added in the fourth film.
  • Also in the fourth film, the paintings on the walls are slightly re-arranged from their position in the second film, most notably the large painting of the wizard sleeping while leaning against a chair has been removed.
  • In the fifth film, the portraits of Everard and Phineas Nigellus Black are added, and Fawkes's perch has been moved from beside the desk to the upper level next to the telescope.
  • In the sixth film a decorative plaster detail has been added to the underside of the loft.
  • In the eighth film, due to the change in Headmaster, most of the decorations in the office (which can be assumed to have belonged to Dumbledore) have been removed. Dumbledore's curios are all gone, and the cabinets that used to house them are filled with dark-bound books. However, in Snape's memories, the office is shown as it appeared in the sixth film.


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Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 27 (The Centaur and the Sneak)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Harry Potter: Magic Awakened
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 12 (The Polyjuice Potion)
  4. Harry Potter Glossary at the Bloomsbury Harry Potter website
  5. 5.0 5.1 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 11 (The Duelling Club)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 36 (The Flaw in the Plan)
  7. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 13 (The Very Secret Diary)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 30 (The Pensieve)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 22 (St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 28 (Snape's Worst Memory)
  11. 11.0 11.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 37 (The Lost Prophecy)
  12. 12.0 12.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 10 (The House of Gaunt)
  13. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 13 (The Secret Riddle)
  14. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 17 (A Sluggish Memory)
  15. 15.0 15.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 20 (Lord Voldemort's Request)
  16. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 23 (Horcruxes)
  17. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 29 (The Phoenix Lament)
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33 (The Prince's Tale)
  19. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 29 (The Lost Diadem)
  20. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
  21. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 29 (The Dream)