I don’t know about you guys, but Harry Potter has always reminded me of the festive season: nothing beats curling up with a cuppa (or mulled wine) for a movie marathon in the days leading up to Christmas.
When you push to one side thoughts of a snow-covered Hogsmeade and the Weasley’s Christmas jumpers though, you realise there’s an altogether more spooky side to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Take, for example, the multiple ghosts roaming around the halls of Hogwarts, or the mysterious Forbidden Forest. Or how about the entire village of Godric’s Hollow, the setting for perhaps the most terrifying scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?
You know the scene I’m talking about, when Harry is ambushed by Lord Voldemort’s snake Nagini after visiting the graves of his parents at his family home on Christmas Eve. Well, you can now stay at that very house – for just over £100 per night.
The only catch? It’s haunted. The remarkable De Vere House in Lavenham, Suffolk, reportedly has a gruesome history dating back centuries, and provided inspiration for the house in which Harry was born and his parents were murdered.
The Grade I listed property is currently resided in by Jane and Tony Ranzetta, who have lived in the 14th century home for over 20 years and have witnessed several paranormal goings-on including a man walking through the kitchen wall into the garden.
Not only that, but Tony claims J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for Nearly Headless Nick, the Gryffindor house ghost, came from one of the property’s resident ghosts, Sir Francis De Vere – with the ghost’s outfit in the films bearing a striking resemblance to the portrait of Francis’ costume in his portrait.
Jane and Tony have since transformed the heritage building into a guesthouse which will set you back £110 per night, a price completely worth it if you fancy a spooktacular trip away all while pretending you’re a Potterverse extra.
Tony explained how the couple’s home became an inspiration for the films:
J.K. Rowling was well acquainted with the village and we know her friend stayed here whilst she was in the process of writing the books, it was surely in her mind when she created Godric’s Hollow.
The house is often referred to as ‘The Harry Potter House’ by locals and in the media, and a huge picture of our front door can be seen at the Warner Bros’ exhibition on the making of Harry Potter.
The whole story is quite peculiar really. Just after we first moved into the house, Jane saw a uniquely dressed man walk through the kitchen wall and into the garden beyond. She was obviously taken aback but understands that a house with this much history must surely hold echoes of the past.
As well as resident ghost Sir Francis De Vere, the property has a number of other mischievous guests. One, a poltergeist called Becky, who reportedly moves things around and ‘really doesn’t like it’ when priests or nuns come to stay.
She’s taken wedding rings and other keepsakes before now – but she’ll usually return them if we ask her nicely. She has to be treated like a child. We’re quite lucky, usually poltergeists are malign but Becky doesn’t seem to be.
Usually somebody becomes a poltergeist if they’ve been subject of a witch’s curse or similar, so we think Becky was probably thrust upon a former homeowner and now just hangs around, shutting doors and turning the TV and radio on and off, just being mischievous rather than dangerous.
The homeowner described it as a ‘wonderful house’ which the couple ‘love’ people to see. ‘It’s especially good at parties,’ Tony added.
The house has retained its period features, including a huge timber frame, fireplaces, wall paintings, and a rare stone spiral staircase with a carved brick handrail.
At the peak of Harry Potter popularity, it’s estimated approximately 5,000 people would come to photograph the famous home every single weekend.
If staying at the De Vere house sounds right up your Diagon Alley, click here.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).