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Visitor's Guide to Hogwarts finished through book seven

Head's Office and Residence

"The Fat Friar told me that Umbridge tried to get back into [Dumbledore's] office last night...Couldn't get past the gargoyle. The Head's office has sealed itself against her."
     -- Ernie Macmillan (OP28)
Dumbledore's office by Mary GrandPré


The entrance to the headmaster's (or headmistress', depending on the era in question) office at Hogwarts is behind a statue of a gargoyle on the seventh floor. When given the proper password, the gargoyle will leap aside, and the wall behind it will split in two to reveal a spiral stone staircase that moves like an escalator 1. Dumbledore's password for the gargoyle always seems to have been the name of a sweet, and to have been known to the various staff members though not to the student body at large 2. However, the office can be sealed so that none can enter save the rightful Headmaster or Headmistress (OP28), and also can be sealed so that someone already inside cannot leave without the Head's permission (OP37).

Once in the door, visitors ride on a spiral stone staircase that moves slowly upward as the gargoyle's entrance closes behind them. The staircase leads to a highly polished oak door with a brass knocker in the shape of a griffin. The door is not sound-proof; a visitor standing on the staircase can hear anyone speaking in the room inside, although not necessarily distinctly unless the speakers' voices are raised 3.

The oak door opens into a large and beautiful circular room with windows, at least one of which faces east with a view of some of the mountains surrounding the castle. The windows also afford a view of the Quidditch pitch. Although the windows had curtains back in Armando Dippet's day, Dumbledore does not seem to have ever been in the habit of drawing them, even on snowy winter days or at night 4. By day the office is sunlit, while at night it is illuminated by candlelight (OP22) and lamplight.

The walls of the office are covered with portraits of previous Headmasters and Headmistresses. The wall immediately behind the Headmaster's desk has a shelf holding the Sorting Hat. Gryffindor's sword is kept in a glass case beside the Sorting Hat. Another wall of the office holds a fireplace that can be connected to the Floo Network when needed.

The Headmaster's desk is an enormous, claw-footed affair that apparently goes with the room, since it was in use in Armando Dippet's day. The surface is highly polished, though naturally it is sometimes covered with papers. Dumbledore also kept a silver ink pot with a handsome scarlet quill (possibly a phoenix feather) on the desk. The desk faces the door leading up from the gargoyle; a visitor standing with his back to the Headmaster's chair (which is particularly high-backed) will find himself or herself staring out at the Quidditch pitch. The Headmaster keeps a visitor's chair but sometimes has to conjure more when several visitors arrive suddenly.

In Dumbledore's day (although not in Armando Dippet's), the office contained a number of spindly-legged tables supporting various "curious silver instruments" (CS12), the function of which Harry did not know as of his sixth year, that seem to whir and emit little puffs of smoke day and night regardless of whether the Headmaster was actively consulting them, present, or even in residence.

Behind the door in Dumbledore's day (though again, not in Armando Dippet's) a golden perch for Fawkes stood. Beside the perch was a black cabinet which Dumbledore at one time used as a drinks cabinet (HBP20), although by Harry's time at Hogwarts the Headmaster kept a Pensieve there instead.

After Dumbledore's death, a large portrait of him hung directly behind the desk (DH36). This portrait hid a secret chamber where the Sword of Gryffindor was kept until Snape returned it to Harry (DH33).

Headmasters of Hogwarts

The film set of the Head's office is filled with books. The books are aged and weathered and are scattered over most flat surfaces. They are also shelved around the walls by category, and within each section the same selection of invented titles are duplicated over and over. For example, one section is devoted to Magical Law. Some of the titles there read:

Interestingly enough, among the old Daily Prophets (dating from earlier films) and handwritten notes on the table on the lower level is a large old Bible. -- SVA

  1. (CS12, GF30, OP22) describe the gargoyle's opening procedure, the staircase, and the door at the top of the stairs in detail.

  2. McGonagall as Deputy Headmistress knew the password (CS12), but so did Hagrid (CS13), Snape (GF28), and even Umbridge (OP27).

  3. Harry could hear Fudge's argument with Dumbledore about Madame Maxime clearly in his fourth year (GF30), but not Dumbledore's discussion with the portraits in December of his fifth year.

  4. At least one window faces the direction of sunrise - specifically some of the mountains surrounding Hogwarts - as shown during Harry's visit on the morning after the Battle of the Department of Mysteries (OP37). The memory from the diary indicated that once Armando Dippet drew back the curtains and looked out, the sky showed the colours of sunset, but did not specify that the window in question faced the sun itself, so this appears consistent. Harry's visit after Aragog's burial (HBP23) speaks of multiple windows.

    (HBP20) refers to the window ledges, and although it was snowing outside and rather dark, the curtains were not drawn.

  5. There is contradictory evidence for the location of Dumbledore's office. In GF28, the entrance is on the second floor, but in HBP, it is on the seventh floor in one of the towers.

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original page date 20 September 2005 MLW, spawned from original page 2-November-2000; Last page update 23-May-2009 SVA