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Privet drive
4 Privet Drive
Location information
Location

Little Whinging, Surrey, England

Permanent residents
"You don't mean--you can't mean the people who live here? Dumbledore, you can't. You couldn't find two people who are less like us. And they've got this son--"
Minerva McGonagall[src]

4 Privet Drive is the street address of the home owned by Vernon and Petunia Dursley. They lived in this home with their son, Dudley as well as their nephew, Harry Potter, son of Lily Potter, Petunia's late sister and Lily's husband James Potter. Privet Drive lies in the village of Little Whinging, which is located in the county of Surrey, near London in the southeast of England. The neighbourhood consists of a number of almost exact replications of the Dursley residence - row upon row of executive houses for executive people.

History

"While you can still call home the place where your mother's blood dwells, there you cannot be touched or harmed by Voldemort. He shed her blood, but it lives on in you and her sister. Her blood became your refuge. You need return there only once a year, but as long as you can still call it home, there he cannot hurt you. Your aunt knows this. I explained what I had done in the letter I left, with you, on her doorstep. She knows that allowing you houseroom may well have kept you alive for the past fifteen years"
Albus Dumbledore telling Harry Potter about the powerful magical protection Harry has while he calls Privet Drive home[src]
Harrywig

Harry lets Hedwig fly free outside the house

The Dursleys bought the house and started living in it in 1977.[1]

Albus Dumbledore first visited the house in 1981, delivering the baby Harry Potter to be put into the Dursleys care after the murder of his parents. Harry wasn't the only thing that Dumbledore left behind him on this occasion: he also invoked strong magic granting Harry absolute protection from Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters whilst he was at the house, as long as Harry could still call Privet Drive his home, until he came of age on his seventeenth birthday. As it happened, the Order of the Phoenix chose to move Harry to a different safe house - during the famous "Seven Potters" operation - a few days in advance of his seventeenth birthday, after which the magical protection was broken. Before the Order's arrival, however, Vernon Dursley was worried that the plan was actually a cover for a plot by Harry to "get the house." Harry scoffed at this theory, noting "Just in case you've forgotten, I've already got a house," silencing his uncle, who could think of no good argument against this.

The Advance Guard assembled here when they came to take Harry to 12 Grimmauld Place in the summer of 1995, as did the members of the Order of the Phoenix who were part of the Seven Potters plan in 1997. The house was temporarily connected to the Floo Network by Arthur Weasley when the family came to pick Harry up to take him back to The Burrow for the remainder of the summer holidays in 1994. The fact that the fireplace was boarded up caused something of a problem, as wizards and witches aren't used to this sort of thing happening to their fireplaces and thus weren't expecting such an obstacle to be put in their path. In the end, Arthur destroyed the fireplace in order to get out, although he was kind enough to fix it before he left.

Appearance

The home consisted of two floors. Inside, the house was, if anything, even neater than the perfectly presented gardens. Nymphadora Tonks in particular was moved to comment about how clean it was when she visited as part of the Advance Guard, although it has to be said that she is used to the walking mess that is her father, Ted Tonks. The downstairs consists of a living room, dining room, kitchen and hall. And, of course, the cupboard under the stairs (Harry's old room) which is full of spiders and just large enough for a young boy to sleep in. However, when Harry's first letter from Hogwarts arrived via Owl Post it was addressd to "Mr. Harry Potter, the cupboard under the stairs". It is believed that Vernon then became frightened by the idea that the magical world knew how poorly Harry was being treated and decided to move Harry to Dudley's spare room to keep himself from getting in to trouble.

The living room has a boarded-up fireplace, in front of which sits an electric fire, though it is unknown as to whether it was boarded-up before Vernon and Petunia moved in, or whether they boarded it up.

Privet Drive-DH

The kitchen is filled with spotless modern top-of-the-range appliances, including a wide-screen television, whilst the dining room has a sizeable table just large enough to hold thirty-seven birthday presents and a few plates of bacon and eggs.

The layout upstairs used to consist of Vernon and Petunia's room, a spare room, Dudley's room, and Dudley's other room (in addition to a bathroom of course). Dudley's other room (the smallest of the bedrooms) was given to Harry by Vernon in 1991 - not an act of kindness but an attempt to prevent him receiving his acceptance letter to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This didn't go down well with Dudley of course, but he couldn't manage to make Vernon change his mind. The plan didn't work anyway, as Rubeus Hagrid eventually appeared to put the letter directly into Harry's hand, but Harry was allowed to keep the bedroom anyway.

Inside his room, Harry had a bed, a wardrobe and a desk, and when he stayed there he kept his Hogwarts trunk there too. Hedwig lived in a cage set on the desk. The room also consisted of books, presumably Dudley's, which were never read and some of Dudley's old toys, many of them broken or beyond repair. The other main feature of the room was the cat-flap that Vernon installed in 1992 - this was part of his scheme to keep Harry locked in his room forever following the notorious Dobby-and-the-pudding incident. He also fitted bars to the windows at this time to stop Harry escaping - they only lasted for three days before Fred and George Weasley ripped them off with a flying car, but the cat-flap stayed for years. Presumably it was removed after Voldemort's defeat and the end of the Second War, when the Dursleys could safely return to their house without risk of attack. At this point, finally, they would also have been free of Harry forever, and it's likely that nothing in the world could make Vernon happier.

Gardens

4 Privet Drive back 1

The back garden

There is a conservatory located in the back garden. Dudley once threw his pet tortoise through the roof of the greenhouse. Petunia often kept an eye on the neighbours by looking over the garden fence. There was also a shed, which was likely located in this garden.

In the front garden, the family grew Agapanthi and pansies.

Surrounding area

A little information is known about the immediate surroundings of Privet Drive. Wisteria Walk is nearby, and it's on this street that the Squib and Order of the Phoenix member Arabella Figg lives with her vast collection of cats. Magnolia Crescent is also in the area. A dark alley next to a garage runs off this road, and it was here that Harry first saw Sirius Black in 1993. It is also where he and Dudley were attacked by Dementors in 1995.

Magnolia Road, which adjoins Magnolia Crescent, runs down to a playground which contains a number of swings which have been broken by Dudley and his gang, with only one remaining in working order.

Known residents

Harry Potter: "What's this?"
Petunia Dursley: "Your new school uniform."
Harry Potter: "Oh, I didn't realise it had to be so wet."
— An example of how the Dursleys treated Harry[src]
DursleyFamily

The Dursleys

The Dursley's nephew, Harry Potter, the son of Petunia's late sister Lily and Lily's late husband, James Potter, was delivered to the Dursleys on the front step the night after his parent's death. Professors Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall met at the front of the home, where they waited for the arrival of Rubeus Hagrid, who was charged with the retrieval of the baby Harry.

For most of his young life, the Dursleys, who felt Harry was a burden on their family, forced Harry to live in the cupboard under the stairs on the ground floor of the home. This was changed before the beginning of Harry's first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, when the Dursleys discovered that the school was aware of Harry's horrible living conditions.

Author's comments

"I liked the associations with both suburbia and enclosure, the Dursleys being so smugly middle class, and so determinedly separate from the wizarding world"
J. K. Rowling's thought.[src]

4 Privet Drive is visually befitted to Vernon Dursley's status as a company director, big and square, but, as J. K. Rowling wrote, she unconsciously made it resembling her second house she lived as a child, which on the contrary was a rather small three-bedroomed, in the suburb of Winterbourne, near Bristol. She realised about it in time when she had seen Dursley's house built in Leavesden Studios. The precise reflection of Privet Drive depicted in her books, made her feel being in an exact replica of her old home, down to the position of the cupboard under the stairs and the accurate location of each room. Although she never described her home to the set designer, director or producer, this was yet another of the unsettling experiences that filming the Harry Potter books has brought her.[2]

She also admitted: "For no very good reason, I have never been fond of the number four, which has always struck me as a rather hard and unforgiving number, which is why I slapped it on the Dursleys' front door."[2]

Etymology

  • In England, a "privet" is "a very common shrub planted as hedges in suburbia." Those with privet hedges are said to conform to the suburban identity, and privets are characterized as boring and unimaginative.
  • "Privet" also means "prohibition."
  • "Privet" could also be a play on the word "private", as the Dursley's keep things like Harry living there 'private' against many adults ex. the Masons in 1992.

Behind the scenes

  • In LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, the Dursley's have a sign hanging in their home which says: "No wands used in this house".
    Lego Harry Potter 4728 - The Dursley's House

    Lego Harry Potter 4728 - The Dursley's House

  • Also in LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4, in Harry's second year, the Dursleys install a security fence in addition to the bars on his window to keep Harry from escaping to Hogwarts.
  • In the first film Number Four was filmed at a real house at Picket Post Close, Winkfield, Bracknell. In the following films it was recreated in Leavesden Studios.
  • 4 Privet Drive is based on Rowling's own childhood home in Winterbourne, near Bristol.

Appearances

Notes and references

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