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"The hedge had grown wild in the sixteen years since Hagrid had taken Harry from the rubble that lay scattered amongst the waist-high grass. Most of the cottage was still standing, though entirely covered in the dark ivy and snow, but the right side of the top floor had been blown apart; that, Harry was sure, was where the curse had backfired."
— Description[src]

The Potter cottage was the home of the Potter family until the final months of the First Wizarding War. It was a deselect little cottage located in the village of Godric's Hollow in West Country.[4] Bathilda Bagshot's cottage was located nearby.

When a prophecy concerning Harry's defeat of Lord Voldemort was foretold, a Fidelius Charm was placed on the home by Albus Dumbledore when the Dark Lord marked the family for death as a result.[5]

On the night of 31 October, 1981, Voldemort showed up to murder them, but was defeated when his Killing Curse meant for Harry rebounded on him and a large portion of the cottage was destroyed. The cottage has thenceforth been undisturbed and left in its ruined state.[6]


It was known to be a comfortably sized, two story building with a small gate and hedges surrounding the front yard. Harry's bedroom was located on the first floor, close to the staircase in the living room. Harry's bedroom had a Magic Alphabet hanging on the wall.

Following Voldemort's attack on the cottage, Harry's room was blown apart by Voldemort's backfiring killing curse. The cottage was left in its ruined state as a testament to the violence of the First Wizarding War, and to the lives lost there.[6]


James and his Muggle-born wife Lily Evans used the house as a hiding place from Lord Voldemort when he marked them and their infant son Harry for death.

The small family also had a cat that lived with them at the time. It is unknown what happened to the cat.[3] After James and Lily were murdered the cottage remained empty, with no one else living in it.[4]


First Wizarding War

"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies... and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not... and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives... the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies...."
Sybill Trelawney's first prophecy[src]

Infant Harry riding a broomstick inside the cottage

After a prophecy was made by Sybill Trelawney concerning the birth of one who would be able to defeat Lord Voldemort, Albus Dumbledore had the Potters go into hiding after being warned of Voldemort's intentions by then-Death Eater Severus Snape.[5]

A Fidelius Charm was placed on the house, with Sirius Black chosen as Secret-Keeper; this meant that the house and its occupants couldn't be found even if Voldemort "had his nose pressed against their sitting-room window". However, a last-minute decision was made to make Peter Pettigrew Secret-Keeper instead, as it was believed he would be less obvious to the Death Eaters. Unfortunately, neither the Potters nor Sirius knew that Pettigrew had in fact betrayed the Order of the Phoenix and turned spy for Voldemort.[7]

Murder of the Potters

"All anyone knows is, he turned up in the village where you was all living, on Hallowe'en ten years ago. You was just a year old. "
— Overview of Voldemort entering Godric's Hallow[src]

Voldemort arriving at Godric's Hollow and murdering Lily and James Potter

After learning the whereabouts of the Potter family from Pettigrew, Voldemort travelled to Godric's Hollow on the night of 31 October, 1981. With its magical protections broken, Voldemort was able to find it easily and blasted the front door open, catching its inhabitants off-guard. James, whom had left his wand on the sofa was murdered quickly, trying to defend his family. After Voldemort murdered James he preceded up the stairs to infant Harry's nursery where mother and son were trapped inside.[6]

Voldemort attempting to murder infant Harry Potter

Cornered in the nursery, Lily refused to step aside for Voldemort, and was murdered as well, the green light from this act actually lighting up the entire upper floor. When the Dark Lord then attempted to murder the one prophesied to defeat him, the protection laid down by his mother's loving sacrifice caused the Killing Curse to rebound, destroying Voldemort's corporeal body but unfortunately also taking out a significant chunk of the cottage's upper floor.

Harry was left with nothing but a lightning-bolt scar on his forehead, while Lord Voldemort's powers were temporally destroyed. Henceforth, was known as the "Boy Who Lived" and was also marked as Lord Voldemort's equal, thus sealing his fate.[6] Harry's title as the "Boy Who Lived" would effect his life for many years to come.


"She may have taken you grudgingly, furiously, unwillingly, bitterly, yet still she took you, and in doing so, she sealed the charm I placed upon you. Your mother's sacrifice made the bond of blood the strongest shield I could give you."
— Dumbledore explaining the Bond of blood charm[src]

Hagrid delivering infant Harry to the Dursleys

Dumbledore had placed a charm on the house that alerted him immediately to James and Lily's deaths.[8] Sirius Black and Rubeus Hagrid discovered Harry still alive inside the ruined house within his crib. Harry was taken by Rubeus Hagrid by the request of Dumbledore, to the care of his maternal relatives, the Dursley family.[7] He spent the next ten years without any knowledge of his wizarding heritage and was treated poorly by his aunt and uncle, Petunia and Vernon Dursley.

Dumbledore believed Harry would benefit from being with blood relatives in order to preserve the protection his mother gave him with her death. While Hagrid took Harry to the Dursleys, Black went after Pettigrew with the intention of killing him.[7] Pettigrew outsmarted Sirius, cut off his own finger, framed Black for murder, and killed twelve Muggles when he blowup a street during his escape.[7]

Second Wizarding War

"On this spot, on this night of 31 October 1981, Lily and James Potter lost their lives. Their son, Harry, remains the only wizard ever to have survived the Killing Curse. This house, invisible to Muggles, has been left in its ruined state as a monument to the Potters and as a reminder of the violence that tore apart their family."
— Harry Potter reading the sign outside the cottage[src]

Harry and Hermione outside the ruined Potter Cottage in 1997

This house was visited again by Harry on Christmas Eve, 1997, along with Hermione Granger. It had been left in its ruined state and made invisible to Muggles, as a monument to the Potters and to Voldemort's first downfall. By this time, nature had largely reclaimed it with ivy covering most of the surviving portions and the lawn having grown out of control.[4]

Wizard visitors could observe a memorial sign with a message in golden letters explaining this fact. A number of visitors had written on the sign, either signing their names in Everlasting Ink, carving their initials, or leaving messages, including a number addressed directly to Harry Potter expressing their support for him. Some of these messages included: "long live Harry Potter", "if you read this, Harry, we're all behind you!", and "good luck, Harry, wherever you are". Hermione initially expressed her discomfort with the graffiti, though Harry found the sixteen years' worth of supportive messages comforting.[4]

It is probable that the house remained in its ruined state after the Second Wizarding War. It is known that Harry Potter and his wife Ginny Weasley did not live in Godric's Hollow after their marriage.[9]


Behind the scenes

  • The Potter cottage that appears in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone during Hagrid's conversation with Harry in the Leaky Cauldron, and the Potter cottage that appears in Deathly Hallows: Part 1 during Harry and Hermione's visit to Godric's Hollow appear to have different styles and designs. One possible reason for this is that a lot of the first film was shot on location, whereas a lot of the subsequent instalments were created on sound stages. Another reason may be that the cottage shown in the first film was in Harry's imagination when he was listening to the story from Hagrid, and the cottage from the last films was the actual one. It is interesting to note, however, that the first cottage bears similarities to Church Cottage, where Rowling grew up.
  • Since Harry was born in the village of Godric's Hollow, it is very possible that he was born in his parents' home.
  • In the first film version, Voldemort is seen creeping up to the house and nobody is seen through the windows. He opens the door, by possibly using Alohomora. Lily is seen slamming Harry's nursery door and mouths the word: James, as a cloaked man is seen going down the stairs. The nursery door is blasted open and Voldemort casts the Killing Curse on Lily. Green light is then seen flashing through the cottage windows, and Voldemort points his wand in Harry's face.
  • In Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Severus Snape was seen entering the household after Voldemort's attack, mourning over Lily's corpse, just before Hagrid arrived to retrieve Harry.
  • In Cursed Child, Harry was found by Hagrid in his cot which was shown to be lit with pure white light.


Notes and references

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 16 (Godric's Hollow) - "Harry did not want to admit that he had not been thinking about the sword at all when he suggested they go to Godric’s Hol-low. For him, the lure of the village lay in his parents’ graves, the house where he had narrowly escaped death, and in the person of Bathilda Bagshot."
  2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 16 (Godric's Hollow) - "Most celebrated of these half-magical dwelling places is, perhaps, Godric’s Hollow, the West Country village where the great wizard Godric Gryffindor was born, and where Bowman Wright, Wizarding smith, forged the first Golden Snitch."
  3. 3.0 3.1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 10 (Kreacher's Tale)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 16 (Godric's Hollow)
  5. 5.0 5.1 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 37 (The Lost Prophecy)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 33 (The Prince's Tale)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Chapter 19 (The Servant of Lord Voldemort)
  8. http://pottercast.the-leaky-cauldron.org/transcript/show/166?ordernum=3
  9. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, page 4