George Heriot’s School – The Inspiration for Hogwarts


Seen here from the roof of Ediburgh’s Camera Obscura on the Royal Mile, it’s easy to understand how this 400 year old school inspired JK Rowling to create a magical school of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Most of us know that Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book while staying warm in the Elephant Cafe in Edinburgh, and has lived in the city for years. She had a rich and beautiful city from which she pulled so many great details for the story. Principal among them was Hogwarts itself. You can read about the history and architecture of the school here on the school’s website. There is so much information, it’s really worth a look.

George Heriot was a very wealthy goldsmith for Anne of Denmark and her husband King James VI of Scotland. Upon his death he bequeathed a trust to establish the school for “puir, fatherless bairns” (orphaned* children) as a gift to the city of his birth.

Even though the school today has many students who pay tuition, it is still a charitable organization which provides a free education to orphans.

The school is not normally open to the public, but there are occasional open days. Next time we’re in Edinburgh and have a bit of free time I’m going to try our luck and see if we can take a look inside.

*Thanks to a comment from an insider, I was corrected on this. “fatherless bairns” means just that, children without fathers. I’m quite sure single mothers were very grateful for the opportunity for their children.

Black and White Wednesday
Photo of the Week
Scenic Weekends


Weekly Top Shot #72

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

About akil3655

A Scotsman and his American photographer wife traveling the world and writing about it. Tales, reviews, photos, interviews and crazy goings on. Because you never know what's going to happen.

, , , , ,

23 Responses to George Heriot’s School – The Inspiration for Hogwarts

  1. Louise Lloyd March 1, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

    I love Edinburgh….and I LOVE Harry Potter! Such a beautiful city with so many wonderful places to capture, this is a very striking looking school, I kinda want to go there and pretend it really is Hogwarts!

    Thank you so much for joining in with Photo of The Week! X
    Louise Lloyd recently posted..Photo of The WeekMy Profile

    • akil3655
      Twitter: kiltandacamera
      March 1, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

      Edinburgh is my favorite city in the UK. I’m so glad we’ve been able to spend so much time there, and I love that we keep finding new and fantastic things every time we go.

      I hope you get there someday!
      akil3655 recently posted..The Scotch Whisky Experience in EdinburghMy Profile

      • john January 31, 2014 at 12:12 am #

        If you want to find somewhere new and out of the way but still in the city center (west end) go to dean village. A quite amazing place to wonder around.

        • akil3655
          Twitter: kiltandacamera
          January 31, 2014 at 9:12 am #

          Thanks, John. I’ll definitely check it out next time we’re in Edinburgh.

  2. Gemma Wiseman March 2, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    The school looks so much like a grand mansion! How wonderful for students there to know that their world has been immortalised in a book high on the international reading list!
    Gemma Wiseman recently posted..Shadows in BlueMy Profile

    • akil3655
      Twitter: kiltandacamera
      March 3, 2013 at 7:45 pm #

      I know, right? How fun to go to a school that’s been so immortalized, and which is such a beautiful place full of history even if it hadn’t been written into the books.

      • agdodds June 23, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

        I attended Heriot’s as a child. Some people may not know that it was founded in 1628 and that in the 19th century the interior of the chapel was remodelled by Pugin who designed the Houses of Parliament. I always suspected that Rowling used Heriot’s as her Hogwarts although I have read that Fettes was the model- most unlikely IMHO as the first Harry Potter book was written just around the corner from Heriot’s whereas Fettes is two miles to the north and is Gothic revival rather than Scottish baronial.

        • akil3655
          Twitter: kiltandacamera
          June 23, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

          Thanks for the information, Allan. It’s a beautiful school, and we can understand how it could be such an inspiration to her. Your memories of your time there must be full of great stories. :)

  3. Carol L McKenna March 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    Wow! Informative photo and post ~ fascinating ~ ^_^
    Carol L McKenna recently posted..Art, Poetry, Photography WeekendMy Profile

  4. Deanna@Snippets from Springdale March 2, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

    How interesting, and what a fun life you must lead with all your traveling.

    • akil3655
      Twitter: kiltandacamera
      March 3, 2013 at 7:44 pm #

      Deanna, there are good parts and bad, but I wouldn’t trade it. I love this life!

  5. 4joy March 2, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    I think that old behemoth could inspire all kinds of stories….
    4joy recently posted..North AtlanticMy Profile

  6. Countryidyll March 2, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    Thanks for your very informative post. Photo looks as though it could have been taken in Turkey!

  7. Allie March 3, 2013 at 7:19 am #

    Simply beautiful. Harry Potter is such an interesting spark of creativity.

    Allie recently posted..CreativityMy Profile

  8. Lilinha Espindula
    Twitter: LilinhaAngel
    March 3, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    Very cool photo and great post! :) x
    Lilinha Espindula recently posted..Silent SundayMy Profile

  9. Eileen March 3, 2013 at 11:16 am #

    Edinburgh is another place I would love to visit. Great post, I enjoyed reading the Harry Potter books. Have a happy Sunday and week ahead!
    Eileen recently posted..Hike to Mirror LakeMy Profile

    • akil3655
      Twitter: kiltandacamera
      March 3, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

      Thanks, Eileen! Hope you have a good week too.

  10. Emma Wright
    Twitter: meganbenmummy
    March 3, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

    What an amazing looking building x

    • akil3655
      Twitter: kiltandacamera
      March 3, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

      Isn’t it? I really want to get inside and spend a few days exploring. I wonder if it’s haunted?

  11. Madge @ The View From Right Here
    Twitter: MadgeBloom
    March 3, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

    Thank you for coming by sharing your creative photography on Weekly Top Shot #72!
    Madge @ The View From Right Here recently posted..Deadliest Catch – Season 9My Profile

  12. RamblingRound March 4, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    Cool! I had no idea where she got the idea for the school.
    RamblingRound recently posted..If It’s Windy, It Must Be MarchMy Profile

  13. School Kid December 9, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

    Hey, I’m from this school, and there is definitely some stories about the piper falling down the turrets and so forth. However you seem to have made a little minor error in your post, our school was founded by George Heriot but he founded it indeed for “puir, fatherless bairns” but this really just means children without father’s and not exactly for orphaned children, the school has two main bursaries, THE FOUNDATION AND JAMES HARDIE BURSARIES, Foundation bursaries are for children without a father and the James Hardie Bursary is for children without a mother. I feel since you wrote this article you should know this, but it is a simple error. The school doesn’t really let people in just to nose about, but they do have an Senior 6 photography class, which could get you in, hahaa. The school really does have a lot of history worth checking out though. Also the school has an annual Founders Day service, this is held in June on George Heriots Birthday to praise and honor him.

    • akil3655
      Twitter: kiltandacamera
      December 9, 2013 at 10:15 pm #

      Hey, School Kid, thanks for the information! It’s great to hear from someone on the inside. Next time we’re headed for Edinburgh I would love to get in touch with the photography class to see the grounds.