"And Merope? She... she died, didn’t she? Wasn’t Voldemort brought up in an orphanage?"
Harry Potter inquiring about Voldemort's history to Albus Dumbledore[src]

Wool's Orphanage[2] was a Muggle orphanage in London, most notably known as the childhood home of Tom Riddle.[1]

History

Albus Dumbledore: "I was wondering whether you could tell me anything of Tom Riddle’s history? I think he was born here in the orphanage?"
Mrs Cole: "That’s right. I remember it clear as anything, because I’d just started here myself. New Year’s Eve and bitter cold, snowing, you know. Nasty night. And this girl, not much older than I was myself at the time, came staggering up the front steps. Well, she wasn’t the first. We took her in, and she had the baby within the hour. And she was dead in another hour."
— Dumbledore and Mrs Cole discussing Tom Riddle's background at the Orphanage[src]

The orphanage was built and operational sometime before 31 December, 1926, when the pregnant witch Merope Riddle came to the orphanage, shortly after her husband Tom Riddle Snr abandoned her. Shortly after giving birth to her son and naming him after his father, she died there. The orphanage took care of the newborn, without knowing his magical heritage, though unpleasant incidents occurred around him without any solid evidence to condemn the young Tom. Tom has no sentimental attachments for the orphanage, as the staff rarely gave him parental guidance due to his independent nature (as he rarely cried even in his infancy), and he would constantly terrorise his fellow orphans due to his uniqueness compared to them; raised without parental love and among people who are different from him, he found it impossible to bond with them. On one occasion he defensively accused Mrs Cole of insanity without any hesitation when he thought she was going to send him to an asylum for his actions, while Cole herself expressed her joy that he would be gone from the orphanage during his studies abroad.[1]

In 1938, Albus Dumbledore came to the facility to bring Tom to Hogwarts.[1] Throughout his seven years of education, Tom deeply wished to avoid returning to Wool's Orphanage for the summers, as he even made a special request to the then-headmaster Armando Dippet to remain in school during the holidays.[3] In his sixth year's summer vacation in 1943, Tom departed from the facility to head towards Little Hangleton to confront his Muggle father before returning. He murdered his father and grandparents and framed his maternal uncle.[4] Upon graduating and becoming a legal adult, Riddle departed from Wool's Orphanage forever, beginning his career at Borgin and Burkes and down the path to becoming the most feared dark wizard known.

Hermione Granger: "We could try digging in the foundations?"
Harry Potter: "He wouldn’t have hidden a Horcrux here."
— Harry and Hermione trying to hunt Horcruxes[src]

Sometime before 1997, the orphanage had been demolished to make way for an office block. During their search for Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley investigated the possibility that he had hidden one of them in the orphanage, even though Harry highly doubted that they would find one there, since Voldemort's Muggle heritage would be something that he would not want to remember. When they went to the site, the orphanage had been replaced by offices, causing the trio to leave to find the Horcruxes elsewhere.[5]

Description

"Dumbledore stepped into a hallway tiled in black and white; the whole place was shabby but spotlessly clean."
—Description of the orphanage[src]

The front gate of the orphanage

During the 1930s, the orphanage was a square building surrounded by high railings. It was run-down, but clean, and the orphans in residence were well cared for and generally happy. They even enjoyed holidays at the seaside on occasion. Despite this, it seems the orphanage had some unpleasantness, as Tom despised returning to it, and Harry Potter later noted it seemed "a grim place in which to grow up". The orphanage was run by Mrs Cole.[1]

Known residents of the orphanage

Orphans

Staff

Behind the scenes

Appearances

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Notes and references

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