"This is it -- the Leaky Cauldron. It's a famous place."
-- Rubeus Hagrid, PS7
The Leaky Cauldron is a wizarding pub located on Charing Cross Road in London.
Built by Daisy Dodderidge around 1500 “to serve as a gateway between the non-wizarding world and Diagon Alley” (FW), the Leaky Cauldron has remained a famous and popular place for five hundred years (PS5). Located not in Diagon Alley proper but on the outside, on Charing Cross Road in the heart of London (DH26), the pub is “tiny” and “grubby-looking,” sandwiched between a book shop and a record shop where passing Muggles don’t seem to be able to see it (PS5). Today, the shop is owned and run by a toothless old man named Tom (PA3), and also employs a dishwasher (GF9) and possibly a maid (PA4).
The tavern sees quite a lot of traffic and is frequently crowded. While this can be partly attributed to its reputation as a welcoming place (FW), it also seems to largely be due to it location as a hub for Diagon Alley. For example, Muggle-born wizards arriving by foot or by underground must pass through the Leaky Cauldron to reach Diagon Alley (PS5); fireplaces here serve as the Floo connection between Diagon Alley and the rest of the wizarding world (CS4); and when the Knight Bus drops Harry off for Diagon Alley, it is at the Leaky Cauldron’s front door (PA3). To reach Diagon Alley from the pub, wizards enter a small walled courtyard behind the building and tap the brick wall, which then opens up to allow them to pass through (PS5).
Harry once stayed at the Leaky Cauldron for several weeks, in August 1993, after running away from the Dursleys. He ate breakfast there every morning and wandered Diagon Alley by day. Consequently, we know a fair amount about the building’s interior and layout:
Inside the Leaky Cauldron
The Leaky Cauldron is described as “dark and shabby” inside (PS5), though it’s also known for being a “welcoming” place (FW). The main room on the ground floor has a bar and quite a few tables (PA4), and down the narrow hall from here is a private parlor, also with a fireplace, where Cornelius Fudge once chatted with Harry about blowing up his Aunt Marge (PA3).
From the ground floor, a “handsome wooden staircase” leads up to the guest rooms, of which there are at least five and almost certainly more. The room Harry once stayed in was Room 11, the first room at the top of the stairs (and likely the first room on the first floor, rather than the eleventh room). The rooms have brass numbers on the doors and contain comfortable beds, polished oak furniture, and at least in Harry’s case, a fireplace and a mirror that talks in a “wheezy voice.” From the windows, both Charing Cross Road (on the Muggle side) and Diagon Alley (on the wizarding side) can be heard. Ron and Percy spent one night in Room 12, next door to Harry, as well (PA3, PA4).
In addition to Harry, Hermione, and the Weasleys, a number of other wizards are seen at the tavern as well:
- Doris Crockford (PS5)
- Dedalus Diggle (PS5)
- Elphias Doge (DH18)
- Albus Dumbledore (DH18)
- Cornelius Fudge(PA3)
- The Grangers (CS4)
- Rubeus Hagrid (PS5)
- Quirinius Quirrell (PS5)
- “a few old women… sitting in a corner, drinking tiny glasses of sherry,” one of whom was smoking a long pipe (PS5)
- funny little witches up from the country for a day’s shopping (PA4)
- wizards reading the magazine Transfiguration Today (PA4)
- wild-looking warlocks (PA4)
- raucous dwarves (PA4)
- a hag eating raw liver (PA4)
- a couple of warlocks having a muttered conversation (DH26)
Toward the north end of Charing Cross Road, there is a nondescript black door with no handle between a music store and a bookshop (now a tapas restaurant). It even has a hanging sign over it. It is usually partially obscured by potted plants. It's east to imagine that this door is the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron!