Exeter is an ancient city, with roots dating all the way back to the Roman times. Mystical, magical and inviting, it’s no surprise that the Queen inventor of magic chose to attend university here. Yes, JK Rowling herself studied at Exeter, long before she dreamt up the world of Harry Potter. Here, she read a degree in Classics and French- the same as me! As a result of her time in the capital of Devon, you don’t have to search far to find the influence this period of her life had on her work. And perhaps my favourite spot of all Harry Potter locations in Exeter is 10 Cathedral Close, reputedly the inspiration for the Room of Requirement.
10 Cathedral Close: A History
Since it inception, 10 Cathedral Close has been under the ownership and management of the church. Now a listed building, it was once called ‘home’ by the Chancellor of the Cathedral, as well as the Archdeacons of Totnes and Barnstaple among other important ecclesiastical figures.
Set in the very heart of the city, just a stone’s throw away from Exeter Cathedral, the area has been in use since at least Roman times. Records and archaeological records suggest that two millennia ago, the area was used to house a Basilica and Bath House.
The property of number 10 itself dates back hundreds of years. During the middle ages, it was in use as a home for important local church members. Today, it houses the Cathedral Deacon. While parts of the building date all the way back to the 14th Century, you really visit the house to see is its magnificent oak door.
In fact, this is the only part of number 10 accessible to the public! Though the actual door is small in size, it’s still well worth a look, if only to admire the intricate craftsmanship. The door dates all the way back to 1600 and is set in a frame of volcanic stone. The coat of arms depicted in stone above the doorway is that of Bishop Cotton.
Visiting No. 10 Cathedral Close
With few markers and not so much as a hint of a door number anywhere in sight, I set out in search of number 10. Luckily, I didn’t need sorcery to reveal what was clearly the oldest door on the block. For the Devon Oak studded door is finely carved, and should be visited while in Exeter- if only to snap a quick photo! Today, the door draws in countless artists and photographers, all hoping to capture the beauty of the artifact for themselves.
JK Rowling has never specifically stated that the door inspired the Room of Requirement. But, due to Number 10’s similarities with the fictional door, there has been plenty of speculation. And whether you want to believe the story or not, you have to admit that it makes for a nice tale (and a good bit of sight seeing!)
Sadly, the rest of the building is closed to the public and so must be admired from the outside. A quick peek inside the door reveals a leafy courtyard, cobbled lane and I’m sure countless more treasures. The Building is Grade I listed, meaning that the door will hopefully be there for decades, if not centuries, to come.