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- "It stood on a hill overlooking the village, some of its windows boarded, tiles missing from its roof, and ivy spreading unchecked over its face. Once a fine-looking manor, and easily the largest and grandest building for miles around, the Riddle House was now damp, derelict, and unoccupied."
The Riddle House is a manor house in Little Hangleton that was home to Thomas, Mary, and Tom Riddle (Lord Voldemort's paternal family). Their mansion was perched atop a hill overlooking the village. Voldemort murdered his grandparents and father in the Riddle House in 1943.
The Riddles were a wealthy Muggle family who owned over half the valley where Little Hangleton lay. They were known to be snobbish to the other villagers, though they engaged with them enough to gossip about the Gaunts, who lived in a rundown shack just outside the village.
Tom Riddle Snr used to pass by the Gaunt shack on his horse, sometimes with his companion Cecilia, and was watched by an infatuated Merope Gaunt. When her brother Morfin discovered this, he hexed Riddle with hives. After Morfin and Marvolo Gaunt were imprisoned in Azkaban, Merope made a play for Riddle, likely using a love potion to obtain his affection. Their marriage caused great scandal in Little Hangleton, and they left for London. Tom soon returned to the Riddle House, however, having abandoned his wife and unborn child, Tom Marvolo Riddle. He claimed he had been "taken in" by Merope, and lived in the house with his parents for roughly sixteen more years.
The Riddle Murders
- "Voldemort Stupefied his uncle, took his wand, and proceeded across the valley to 'the big house over the way.' There he murdered the Muggle man who had abandoned his witch mother, and, for good measure, his Muggle grandparents, thus obliterating the last of the unworthy Riddle line and revenging himself upon the father who never wanted him."
- —Description of the Riddle murders[src]
Upon learning of Riddle Snr's actions toward his mother and himself, Riddle stunned his uncle, took his wand, and proceeded to "the big house over the way" that Morfin had told him about to confront his father with murder in his heart. Frank Bryce, the gardener of the Riddle House, was the only witness to seeing Riddle climbing up the hill. He entered with a simple Unlocking Charm to unlock the door.
Once inside, Riddle found his father and his grandparents in their drawing room, and murdered all three with the Killing Curse. It is unknown if any words were exchanged between them, although it seems likely. The Riddles were found with terrified looks frozen on their faces, and Riddle later informed Harry Potter in the Chamber of Secrets that his father had left his mother because she was a witch, implying that they discussed these matters before Riddle murdered his paternal family members. Their bodies were later discovered by a maid who walked into the room, thus alerting the entire town.
Framing of Morfin Gaunt
The gardener of the house, Frank Bryce, was wrongly accused of the Riddle murders by the Muggle authorities, since the door had not been forced open and he was the only one with a key. The police could determine neither the cause of death nor Bryce's motive though, and Bryce was released. The Ministry of Magic, however, realised immediately that it was a wizard's murder and immediately suspected Morfin Gaunt, who had previously been imprisoned for using magic against Muggles, including Tom Riddle Snr. Morfin testified proudly that he had killed the Riddles and had been awaiting his chance for some time, and his wand was found to have been the murder weapon. He was given a life sentence in Azkaban.
In reality, his nephew had modified Morfin's memory so that he would confess to the crime and there would be no further investigation into the matter, which was arguably a risky move as suspects in serious crimes are investigated for the likelihood of being duped through Memory Charms. A combination of sloppy Wizard police work and Morfin's criminal record led the Ministry to believe the confession was sufficient. Riddle escaped Little Hangleton with Marvolo Gaunt's Ring and without suspicion. Albus Dumbledore would later discover the truth, but it was too late for Morfin, who died in prison.
- "Meanwhile, in the village of Little Hangleton, a maid was running along the High Street, screaming that there were three bodies lying in the drawing room of the big house: Tom Riddle Senior and his mother and father."
- —After a mid finds the bodies of the Riddle family[src]
Over the years, the house fell into great disrepair, and few people wanted to actually live in the house due to its dark history. Frank Bryce was kept on by the house's current owner to do the gardening and to tend the grounds of the vast estate, and Bryce continued to live on the grounds for over fifty years, despite still being neglected and accused by the local villagers. Its current owner is a very wealthy man who owns it for "tax reasons," although no one in Little Hangleton knows what the reasons may be. Still, like many before him, he never showed any inclination to physically occupy the house.
Use by Lord Voldemort
- Wormtail: "My Lord, may I ask how long are we going to stay here?"
- Voldemort: "A week. Perhaps longer. This place is moderately comfortable, and the plan cannot proceed yet. It would be foolish to act before the Quidditch World Cup is over."
- — Lord Voldemort and Wormtail in the Riddle House, discussing their plans[src]
In August of 1994, Lord Voldemort returned to the house with his servant, Peter Pettigrew, and decided to use it as his base of operations during the Triwizard Tournament. Frank Bryce saw a light coming from within the house late one night. Thinking it was children breaking into the house to set it on fire, Bryce took his keys and travelled up the hill to the Riddle House. Upon entering and climbing to its second level, he overheard Voldemort's conspiracy. He had no way of knowing that on the other side of the wall sat the true murderer of the Riddle family and the man responsible for all distrusting him in the village of Little Hangleton, nor that this was the "dark-haired boy" he himself had seen climbing toward the Riddle House that terrible day over half a century ago.
Bryce was soon discovered by Nagini and subsequently was "invited" into the room by Peter Pettigrew on the orders of Lord Voldemort. After a short conversation, Bryce demanded that Voldemort turn around from the fireplace and face him "like a man," to which Voldemort replied that he was "much more than a man" and agreed to turn around, requesting Pettigrew to turn the chair he was sitting in around to face Bryce. When this was done, Bryce let out a horrified scream when he saw Voldemort's sickly, rudimentary body, and his scream continued even after Voldemort raised his wand and used the Killing Curse.
In June of 1995, Voldemort pointed the house out to Harry Potter, whom he had trapped in the Little Hangleton graveyard, saying that his father and his family had once lived in "that house on the hill." After Harry escaped their duel and returned to Hogwarts, Voldemort ceased using the decaying estate as a hideout and subsequently left it. While the fate of the Riddle House was left unknown, Voldemort later made Malfoy Manor his new headquarters.
Description and Layout
- "He let himself in to the cavernous kitchen. Frank has not entered in for many years; nevertheless, although it was very dark, he remembered where the hall was, and he groped his way towards it, his nostrils full of the smell of decay, ears pricked for any sound of footsteps or voices from overhead. He reached the hall, which was a little lighter owing to the large mullioned windows on either side of the front door, and started to climb the stairs, blessing the dust that lay thick upon the stone, because it muffled the sound of his feet and stick."
- —Frank Bryce's description as he entered the Riddle House[src]
The Riddle House was a fine manor, built onto a hill that gave an overlooking view of the village. After the Riddles were all murdered, the Riddle House turned into disrepair. Many of the tiles were missing, the grounds were overgrown, and many of the windows were boarded up.
After the murder of the Riddles, the manor was dark, unused and undisturbed. The back door, which connects to the gardens, led to the massive kitchen that opened up to the foyer. When Frank Bryce entered the house, thinking that there were intruders, he went up the stone steps and turned to the corridor, and there would be a door at the end of the passageway, which would be the drawing room. Despite the home being greatly in need of renovation, it was described as "moderately comfortable" by Lord Voldemort during his stay.
The Drawing Room
The drawing room of the Riddle House was the infamous room in which a maid found all three Riddles dead. When Voldemort is taken inside the house, undetected by Muggles or wizards, he stays inside the drawing room. When Frank enters the house, the drawing room contains a fireplace, a rug and the armchair that Voldemort sits on. It is also where Frank met his demise at the hands of the same murderer.
Behind the scenes
- In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the drawing room is said to contain a rug with a lit fireplace and Voldemort's armchair. However, the appearance is different in the film adaptation, as a fireplace is not seen. Also, the room seems to be lit, and a broken lamp is seen on the floor.
- It is possible that the Riddle House continued to be owned by the wealthy man after Voldemort's use.