When Tom Marvolo Riddle, also known as Lord Voldemort, was a boy under the age of eleven, he was housed in an orphanage in London. It was during his early years that he began to use preliminary magic and used these uncommonly powerful skills to bully other children at the orphanage. Riddle was described as cruel and dominated over the other children. He was a tyrant among them, operating in secret so that no one could ever catch him in the act.

Riddle also began to steal items from other children. He kept these stolen objects in his wardrobe and prized them as though they were trophies. There were many toys such as yo-yos among Riddle's collection.

When Albus Dumbledore visited the orphanage in 1938, and was introduced to young Tom Riddle (by whom he was perceived as a psychologist, doctor or asylum official (a paranoid response to the fear of getting in trouble for his bullying behaviour)), Dumbledore proved that he was a wizard by setting the wardrobe on fire, in which Dumbledore prevented its destruction by igniting it with magical flames. Dumbledore caused the stolen objects (in the box where they were kept) to rattle, this forced Riddle to take the box out and empty it. The objects in the wardrobe were supposedly returned to their rightful owners with apologies by instruction of Dumbledore (who noted clearly that he would know if it had been done or not). Afterwards, this wardrobe mostly contained clothes or was left empty (Riddle would not have stolen from his fellow orphans, now that he was forbidden to use magic under wizarding law while he was still under-age) until Riddle left, now officially a man under the law. The wardrobe was probably destroyed before 1997 when the orphanage was relocated.