It was at the Leaky Cauldron where Harry came to realise he was not just a wizard – but a famous one. This friendly pub came to be an iconic location, and the Harry Potter filmmakers had a lot of fun recreating it.

Concept illustration of the Leaky Cauldron entrance
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Extracted from Harry Potter: Magical Places from the Films by Jody Revenson

In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Rubeus Hagrid brings Harry to the Leaky Cauldron, a London tavern and inn, and reveals it to be the entryway to Diagon Alley and the wizarding world. Behind a nondescript door lies a large dining area complemented by a huge fireplace that blazes under a Tudor-style arch. In the tavern, interior walls of plastered-over brick are framed by long wood beams and tall, trefoiled windows. A chalkboard advertises the Cauldron’s luncheon fare, which includes roast hog, game pie, and pickled eel.

Harry returns to the Leaky Cauldron, having been picked up by the Knight Bus, in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where he stays the night before leaving for Hogwarts. While here, Harry also meets the Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, in a private parlour, which is encased in the dark, weathered wood panels that characterise Tudor style. Harry stays in room eleven on the second floor, which has simple plastered walls and a bed with ornately carved bedposts and headboard. ‘The Tudor room and its Tudor bed were a deliberate choice,’ says Stuart Craig, ‘to reinforce the idea that the wizarding world has a different timescale.’

Fudge speaks to Harry in a private parlour of the Leaky Cauldron
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

The view from the window is of London’s Borough Market and the towers of Southwark Cathedral. The corridor, where a chambermaid attempts to provide room service, was created utilising forced perspective, a time-honoured technique used in set decoration that compresses relative heights in order to make places appear taller or longer. In what is in reality ten or so feet of corridor, the illusion of fifty feet is created. As with so many of the visual effects in the Harry Potter films, practical solutions could be just as applicable as computer-generated ones, and, as Craig describes, ‘this was much less expensive and a lot more fun.’

Harry Potter: Magical Places book cover

Extracted from
‘Harry Potter: Magical Places from the films'