The world of Harry Potter is not just a series of books and films. It has become a fictional concept that has taken on a life of its own. Fans of Harry Potter do everything imaginable to learn more about the world in which Harry lives to make it come even more alive in their imaginations. With the books, movies, interviews with the author (where fans have practically asked everything except what kind of toilet paper they use at Hogwarts), video games and reams of pages of fan fiction, there’s not much that is still unanswered.
But regardless of how much you think you know about the world of Harry Potter, there’s always more to learn. One of the greatest aspects of this world that fans want to know more about is the greatest wizarding school in the world, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Anything you could possibly want to know can be answered about this school and the amazing magical castle that is its home. With all that you think you may already know about the school and the castle, you may be surprised to learn a few things. So here are 15 secrets that even the biggest fans didn’t know about Hogwarts!
15. Hogwarts is Free
According to the Godmother of all things Potter, author J.K. Rowling has stated that Hogwarts was designed as a tuition-free school housed in the United Kingdom. Rowling believed that the school itself was providing a valuable service to the wizarding world and it should be the funded by the Ministry of Magic. We know that parents are expected to take care of the costs of school supplies, but there is never any mention of tuition costs. The Weasley family was known to struggle financially (largely because they had many children and Mr. Weasley didn’t hold a prestigious position in the Ministry of Magic), but all of their children managed to attend the school with everything they needed. Had it not been for a tuition-free policy, the Weasley children would not likely be able to attend.
14. One of Eleven Wizarding Schools
While there has been discussion of other schools of magic, the number of these schools has been somewhat unclear. There are indeed witches and wizards in every part of the world it would seem, but there are not a tremendous amount of schools. The official number though has been revealed to be eleven schools of witchcraft and wizardry. For instance, the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry serves the North American continent and is relatively new to the game, having been founded in the 17th century. Of all the schools, Hogwarts is one of, if not the oldest schools of its kind in the world. Many revere Hogwarts as the finest of the wizarding institutions, although this is somewhat subjective. The European schools tend to have some of the greatest reputations for quality instruction and heritage.
13. Founded in the 10th Century
Hogwarts has been around for over a thousand years! The castle was built using magic and over time, the ancient magic that has protected and shielded the school has grown even stronger. Everyone that is a fan of this fictional world knows that the four founders of the school were responsible for the founding of the school, but most don’t realize that the construction of the castle involved a magical architect in addition to the school’s founders. It makes sense when you consider that the school has more twists, turns, hidden rooms and completely unexplainable architectural phenomenon than is imaginable. Clearly in the 10th century, Hogwarts Castle would have been (as it still is today) a marvel to behold. Sadly, muggles can’t lay eyes on it in all its splendor.
12. Kids Enrolled at Birth!
In the United Kingdom, wizarding families want nothing more than to send their children to Hogwarts. The school takes a lot of children each year, but they certainly do not have to go asking for new students. In fact, enrollment in the school actually happens at birth! When a new witch or wizard is born, the child is automatically enrolled as a potential candidate for the school. Owls deliver the letter on the child’s 11th birthday if they are to be accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. In the case of non-magical parents giving birth to a magical child, a representative from the school goes to explain everything to the parents and the child. (This was the case with Hermione Granger.) Certainly, any school that has lasted over a thousand years must not have trouble recruiting new students.
11. 142 Staircases
Hogwarts Castle is absolutely huge. It is many stories tall with a great number of towers. The castle, which was designed by a magical architect boasts a total of 142 staircases! Being able to keep track of all these staircases must be impossible, especially considering that they are known to constantly be moving. It was even remarked that first year students frequently get lost in the castle while getting used to the staircases themselves. The staircases at Hogwarts lead to all the towers, as well as the dungeons of the castle. The castle is known to play tricks on students (almost as if it has a mind of its own) using the staircases for much of the mischief. Along the staircases are paintings that will interact with the students as they pass.
10. Electronic Devices Don’t Work Right Around Hogwarts
Apparently if there is enough magic around, it will interfere with electrical devices. Even though Hogwarts is very out of the way and certainly off the beaten path, any muggle that happens to come near its location will notice that none of their electrical devices work as they should. The reason for this is because if there is enough magic surrounding an area, it will interfere with the signals necessary for electronic devices to work. A small amount of magic has no impact, but it is apparently large amounts that cause all the problems. Considering that Hogwarts is a thousand years old with a great deal of enchantments cast over it, not to mention the amount of magic that is happening within the castle, it’s amazing anything electrical would work at all!
9. How To Enter The Hufflepuff Common Room
Poor Hufflepuff house always seems to get the short end of the stick. But they don’t mind…they are friendly, easy-going witches and wizards that are just glad to be there. Hufflepuff is not discussed a whole lot, but you might be interested to learn that their common room at Hogwarts is considerably different. To get into their common room, one must rhythmically tap a knock to the syllables of the name “Helga Hufflepuff” to be granted access. Interestingly enough, it is also the only house at the school that can prevent access to another student simply by pouring vinegar on them! The extra details to things like this about the castle are what makes it truly come alive and seem all more real to all the Harry Potter fans out there!
8. Hufflepuff House Ghost is The Fat Friar
Every house has an official house ghost, that acts as something of a mascot at the school. The ghosts take the title as a badge of honor and take ownership of their house. In the case of Hufflepuff, their house ghost has quite the backstory that is somewhat hidden in fandom. The house ghost for Hufflepuff is “The Fat Friar” who was executed by fellow church officials when they saw him curing smallpox by poking people with a stick. He also would pull rabbits out of communion cups. The poor friar was always known in life to be joyful and generous and he kept the same demeanor even as a ghost. The friar is always happy to help out the students of Hogwarts and is seen as perhaps the most jolly and pleasant of all the house ghosts at the school.
7. O.W.L. Exam Grading System
All the die-hard Harry Potter fans know about the O.W.L. tests. Lots of time was spent talking about preparing for these exams. Hermione Granger just about got an ulcer while trying to prepare for them herself! We all know about the top grades, such as Outstanding and Exceeds Expectations on the exams, but most don’t know the full grading scale. Outstanding students always continue to N.E.W.T.S. level courses. Exceeds Expectations students usually do as well. But the grading continues to Acceptable, as well as failing grades such as Poor, then Dreadful and finally the worst a student can achieve on their O.W.L. exam is called: Troll! I think Hogwarts wants to make a point when it comes to the worst of the worst on the exam.
6. Homeschooling is Allowed
Whereas it seems that in the United Kingdom, everyone has their children go to Hogwarts, it is not required. Wizarding children receive homeschool or attend regular school until age 11 to learn the fundamentals of reading, writing and mathematics, but once they become old enough, their studies turn toward living in the magical world. Some witches and wizards can elect to send their children to other schools besides Hogwarts. Interestingly, they can also choose to homeschool their child as well. While this isn’t overly common in the wizarding world, it is certainly not prohibited. Fans speculate that it may often be dark wizards and witches that do this for their children. They also believe that the more intellectual, Ravenclaw-ish magical families may want to take instruction into their own hands as well.
5. About 1,000 Students Attend The School
J.K. Rowling herself has indicated that at any given time, Hogwarts has about 1,000 students attending the school. That’s a whole lot of young witches and wizards and there seem to be some conflicts with this if you watch the films. Regardless, you simply can’t argue with the creator herself! A thousand students all learning the ways of the magical world is a very interesting concept indeed. This means that there could be around 250 students in each house, give or take (I do not think the Sorting Hat keeps a tally out of fairness). But it all makes sense when you see the stands full of hundreds upon hundreds of students gathered to watch Quidditch matches. The house elves in the kitchens certainly stay busy keeping everyone fed, that’s for sure!
4. Dumbledore Doesn’t Know All About The Castle
We tend to think of Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore as the all powerful, all knowing king of wizards. He has spent a very long time as the Headmaster of the school and in that role, he knows more about the castle than just about anyone else. But even with that being the case, there are still many secrets that he does not know. Hogwarts castle is filled with a great deal of mystery and ancient magic. Anything that has been in existence for over a thousand years is apt to have some hidden secrets that will surely stay hidden for a thousand more years. Dumbledore does not pretend to know everything there is to know about Hogwarts either. He is the first to admit that there are still many unanswered questions and mysteries.
3. Headmaster Portraits Are Bound to Serve The Current Headmaster
One of the coolest parts of the castle is that there are portraits of many Hogwarts Headmasters from the past hanging in the Headmaster’s office. We know that these portraits communicate and are often known to spend a great deal of time sleeping or pretending to sleep. What most people don’t know is that the portraits are bound to serve the current Headmaster. There can be no backstabbing or sabotaging of the current Headmaster by the portraits. This all makes good sense, because these portraits seem to all share a common goal and exist peacefully, even though all of them in life perhaps did not see things the same way. The portraits can travel from one to another if there are multiple places where their portraits exist. This has come in handy several times for communicating messages.
2. Headmasters Teach Their Portraits
Hogwarts Headmasters all get their portrait made during their tenure. They do not all get to have their portrait displayed and it would seem that only Headmasters who died while serving as Headmaster get to have their portrait displayed, though this may or may not be completely true. Nevertheless, we know that the portraits all seem to have personality and the ability to be conversational. But it is not the actual Headmaster living on (much like a ghost) in the portrait. Instead, the current Headmaster actually teaches the portrait about their mannerisms and imparts certain wisdom to the portrait that can be shared for generations to come. That explains why the portraits are indeed very similar to the Headmaster they represent, but are not at all like talking to the actual person.
1. Hogwarts Located in The Scottish Highlands
It is kind of hard to tell just where Hogwarts is located in the United Kingdom. We know that it is housed in a remote area that seems far removed from the rest of the world. Surprisingly, it is actually located in the Scottish Highlands however. It is said that because of enchantments upon the castle and other powerful, ancient magic, if a muggle (non-magical person) were to approach, all they would see is ruins from an old building with warning signs of danger. It is kind of a non-issue though, as the area is very remote and pretty much cut off from the rest of civilization. The all-wizard village of Hogsmeade is close to the castle and frequently visited by third year students and above throughout the school year.
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