- "It's ideal for Headquarters, of course. My father put every security measure known to wizardkind on it when he lived here. It's unplottable, so Muggles could never come and call — as if they'd ever have wanted to — and now Dumbledore's added his protection, you'd be hard put to find a safer house anywhere."
- —Sirius Black[src]
12 Grimmauld Place was the ancestral home of the Black family. It was located in the Borough of Islington, London, in a Muggle neighbourhood, and the location was protected by a Fidelius Charm. As the house was invisible to the neighborhood residents, the local Muggles have long since accepted the mistake in numbering which landed number 13 next to number 11.
In 1995, the home became the headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix with the consent of Sirius Black, with Albus Dumbledore becoming Secret-Keeper. After Dumbledore's death in 1997, everyone in whom he confided the location of 12 Grimmauld Place to became a Secret-Keeper.
Number 12 Grimmauld Place, was formerly a handsome Muggle townhouse built in London. At some point, an early member of the wizarding House of Black coveted the beautiful house and managed to "persuade" the original Muggle occupant to leave, and put the appropriate spells on it.
Under Walburga Black
The house was, apparently, in the Black family for some generations when Walburga Black took possession in the mid-20th century. Walburga Black made it clear through her disgust of having anyone less than pure-blood in her home through the hostile shrieks of her portrait, which was affixed to the wall of the home with a Permanent Sticking Charm. For years, the house was home exclusively to the Black family house-elf, Kreacher, who wandered around the building still remaining faithful to his old mistress' portrait, muttering insults about the "blood traitors" and "mudbloods" which had displeased his mistress so.
Although Sirius Black stated that the house was unoccupied after the death of his mother Walburga in 1985, the Black family tree shows that both of Sirius's grandfathers, Arcturus Black III and Pollux Black, were in fact alive until at least 1990, as was his great-aunt Cassiopeia and Callidora Longbottom. It is unclear why none of them would have lived in the house, given that it was the ancestral home of the Black family.
Under Sirius Black
Sirius Black, Walburga's son, hated number 12 Grimmauld Place, and left when he was sixteen. He never imagined he would have to return to his family's home. During Sirius's imprisonment in Azkaban, wrongly convicted for the crime of murdering several Muggles (Peter Pettigrew being the real perpetrator), the house was unoccupied. After his escape in 1993, Sirius gave the home over to the Order of the Phoenix to be used as a headquarters. The home required an arduous cleaning up to make it even remotely habitable. Much of this work fell to Molly Weasley and her children. The home was in such disrepair that doxies and boggarts had made themselves quite at home.
Some point before his death, Sirius wrote in his will that Harry was to inherit the house after his death by using the magical equivalent of the English Common Law concept of the Entailed Estate. Under this type of arrangement, the inheritance of the covered property by the designated heir ("down the direct line, to the next male with the name of 'Black") cannot be prevented by disinheritance or any other legal means. The only way the entail breaks is if there is no living descendant who matches the conditions of the entail. When the entail breaks, the property in question can be disposed of by any legal means, including being willed to any person the current holder so chooses. This legal mechanism matches the known circumstances of the inheritance, where the property was inherited by Sirius despite the fact that he was "disowned", and then could be successfully left to Harry Potter once there was no "direct line, male descendant."
Under Harry Potter
The Order of the Phoenix
After Sirius Black was killed by Bellatrix Lestrange in 1996 during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, the house was inherited by his godson, Harry Potter. He continued to allow the Order of the Phoenix to use it as a safe house. After the death of Albus Dumbledore, Grimmauld Place's Secret-Keeper in 1997, each of the members of the order to whom the secret had been imparted became Secret-Keepers themselves, giving them the power to reveal the house to others.
The Secret-Keepers included Severus Snape, who had killed Dumbledore and was believed to be in Lord Voldemort's employ and therefore would allow Death Eaters into the Order's headquarters. Alastor Moody placed a number of enchantments on the house to keep Snape from entering.
These were a Tongue-Tying Curse to prevent him from telling others of the place and a dust-composed form of Dumbledore, which disintegrated when the person it advanced upon said the word kill or a variant, the point of this being that Moody believed that Snape would be too overrun with guilt to say that he had killed Albus, forcing him to retreat. However, the Order did not know that Albus Dumbledore's death was prearranged with Severus Snape. Despite these enchantments, the Order ceased use of the house as headquarters as they still could not risk being ambushed by Death Eaters.
Use as a hide-out
- Harry: "Grimmauld Place"
- Hermione: "Don't be silly, Harry, Snape can get in there!"
- Harry: "Ron's dad said they've put up jinxes against him — and even if they haven't worked... So what? I swear, I'd like nothing better than to meet Snape!"
- — Harry and Hermione arguing over a safe place to hide[src]
When Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger escaped from the Death Eater attack on Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour's wedding ceremony on 1 August, 1997, they hid at Grimmauld Place. They were able to remain hidden there for a month, though Death Eaters, who were staking out locations linked to the Order, skulked about the street outside, unable to see the secret location.
While at Grimmauld Place, the trio learned that Kreacher had attempted to destroy Salazar Slytherin's Locket— one of several Horcruxes created by Lord Voldemort— at the request of his master, Regulus Black. Kreacher revealed that the horcrux was stolen by Mundungus Fletcher during a looting of 12 Grimmauld Place. After presenting Kreacher with Regulus Black's locket, Harry asked Kreacher to track down Mundungus.
Kreacher returned days later with Mundungus, who revealed that the locket was taken by Dolores Umbridge in Diagon Alley. The trio hatched a plan to infiltrate the Ministry of Magic. While performing four weeks of stakeouts at the Ministry entrance, they spent some of their free time cleaning up 12 Grimmauld Place.
After retrieving Salazar Slytherin's Locket from Umbridge, they Apparated back to Grimmauld Place, but Yaxley grabbed Hermione's arm in the process. She struck him with a Revulsion Jinx and Disapparated away with Harry and Ron, but the house's location had been revealed to Yaxley, and they were forced to abandon it.
It is unknown if Harry came to live in the house with his family or left it abandoned.
The front door opened into a long hallway, lit by a large chandelier and gas lamps. By 1995, its wallpaper was peeling and the carpet had been worn thin. Walburga Black's portrait hung in this hallway. There was also a troll-leg umbrella stand, which, on numerous occasions, Nymphadora Tonks tripped up over, usually causing the portrait of Walburga Black to awaken and start screaming.
On one side of the hallway was the dining room, which featured a dresser holding the Black family crest and china. It became filled with spiders when the house was abandoned. At the end of the hallway were the stairs to the upper floors, decorated with a row of shrunken House-elf heads, mounted on the wall on plaques.
The kitchen was below the ground floor and accessed through a narrow staircase at the end of the entry hallway. The kitchen was a cavernous room with a large fireplace at one end and a large wooden table in the centre. There was also a large pantry and a small room used by Kreacher as a bedroom.
The wall of the staircase leading to the first upper floor was decorated with the heads of house-elves mounted on plaques. On the first landing, there were at least three rooms: a drawing room, a bedroom once shared by Hermione Granger and Ginny Weasley, and a bathroom. The drawing room had long windows facing the street in front of the house, a large fireplace, and the tapestry of the Black family tree.
The second floor featured at least one bedroom, which was shared by Harry Potter and Ron Weasley in the summer of 1995. It featured a portrait of Phineas Nigellus Black until Hermione removed it to take on her, Harry, and Ron's journey.
It is unknown what is on the third floor, but it is likely filled with bedrooms, given that Arthur, Molly, and Fred and George all slept a floor above Harry and Ron in 1995. The master bedroom where Buckbeak stayed may have been on the third floor as well.
The topmost landing features only two bedrooms: Sirius's and Regulus's. The former is decorated with Gryffindor colours and banners as well as pictures of bikini-clad Muggle women and muggle motorbikes, and the latter isdecorated in Slytherin green with the Black family crest over the bed and newspaper clippings about Lord Voldemort on the walls. Both were once ornate but decayed by the late 1990s.
Number 12, Grimmauld Place held many Black family heirlooms and possessions, such as a music box that played a sickly tune and tried to put the listener to sleep, crested goblets, a biting silver box containing Wartcap Powder, and an unopenable locket which turned out to be Salazar Slytherin's Locket, one of Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes. This was where Kreacher put the object after he drove himself mad not being able to complete his master's orders to destroy the locket because it had to be damaged past the point of repair, which was beyond the capabilities and understanding of the house-elf.
Another object of note was the Portrait of Walburga Black, which has an unpleasant habit of loudly screaming about the "Mudbloods" and "blood traitors" of the Order of the Phoenix members that inhabited the house, due to Walburga's prejudice against such people. The portrait was usually closed off with curtains, which aimed to keep the portrait quiet, but are not very effective; any loud noise in the vicinity would cause the curtains to fly open, and Walburga to start raging and howling again until someone forces the curtains shut.
Many of these family heirlooms were stolen and peddled by Mundungus Fletcher, including Salazar Slytherin's Locket, which the thief was forced to give to none other than Dolores Umbridge to avoid prosecution for trading without a licence, she used the locket to enforce her pure-blood credentials, claiming that the 'S' stood for Selwyn, which she claimed was a pure-blood family to whom she was related. In fact, the locket was an heirloom of Salazar Slytherin as well as one of Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes, which Regulus Black stole when he abandoned the Death Eaters.
- An ornate crystal bottle with a large opal set into the stopper, full of what appeared to be blood.
- Boxes, made of tarnished silver and inscribed with languages Harry did not understand.
- A dusty box containing Sirius's grandfather's Order of Merlin First Class.
- China with the Black family crest and motto.
- Rusty daggers
- Family photos in silver frames.
- A grandfather clock that shot heavy bolts at whomever passed by.
- A spidery instrument, rather like a many-legged pair of tweezers, which scurried away and tried to puncture Harry's skin.
- An unopenable locket which turned out to be Salazar Slytherin's Locket.
- A music box that played a faintly sinister, tinkling tune that when wound nearly knocked everyone out.
- A large and golden ring bearing the Black family crest.
- An ancient set of purple robes that tried to strangle Ron when they were removed from their wardrobe.
- Several ancient seals.
- Mounted House-elf heads
- Coiled snakeskin
- A snuffbox
- A nest of dead puffskeins under a sofa
- A piano, on which Hermione Granger taught Ron Weasley how to play "Für Elise".
The name is another of J. K. Rowling's puns: Grimmauld Place can be taken as "grim, old place" or "grim mould place."
Behind the scenes
- The inheritance of the property by Sirius Black is almost certainly governed by the magical equivalent of the English Common Law concept of the Entailed Estate. Under this type of arrangement, the inheritance of the covered property by the designated heir ("down the direct line, to the next male with the name of 'Black'") cannot be prevented by disinheritance or any other legal means. The only way the entail breaks is if there is no living descendant who matches the conditions of the entail. When the entail breaks, the property in question can be disposed of by any legal means, including being willed to any person the current holder so chooses. This legal mechanism matches the known circumstances of the inheritance, where the property was inherited by Sirius although he was "disowned", and then could be successfully left to Harry Potter once there was no "direct line, male descendant."
- In the films, Harry's inheritance of the house is omitted.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Indirectly mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Mentioned only)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game)
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault (mentioned only)
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- ↑ "J.K. Rowling Just Solved 3 of the Biggest 'Harry Potter' Mysteries"
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- ↑ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Ch. 4
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Order of the Phoenix, Ch. 6
- ↑ Order of the Phoenix, Ch. 5
- ↑ Deathly Hallows, Ch. 12
- ↑ Deathly Hallows, Ch. 10