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 give 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 accuse 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. In 1938, Albus Dumbledore came to the facility to bring Tom to Hogwarts. 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. 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. 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.
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 When they went to the site, the orphanage had been replaced by offices, causing the trio to leave to find the Horcruxes elsewhere.
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. 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.
Known residents of the orphanage
Behind the scenes
- In the Harry Potter books, no actual name is given to the orphanage. The orphanage is first named in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
- It is interesting to note that the design of the walls in the orphanage as shown in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is similar to that of the Department of Mysteries.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (First mentioned)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film) (Appears in flashback(s)) (First identified as Wool's Orphanage)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game) (Appears in flashback(s))
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7 (Consoles and PC versions)
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault (mentioned only)