Queen’s University was founded in 1841 with a royal charter from Queen Victoria by The Church of Scotland. And it may be this shared Scottish heritage with Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling – whose mother was half Scottish and where Rowling now resides – that has created a link between Queen’s and the world of Hogwarts in so many ways.
UPDATE: A video has been created for this article – narrated by Bryony Rowling, professional voice-over artist and cousin of “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling.
Watch the video embedded below or view it on Youtube. (article continues below)
Perhaps the most notable connection can be found at the University’s own Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex, England.
This Tudor era castle, which began construction exactly 400 years prior to the University founding, was purchased by a Queen’s alumnus Alfred Bader in 1992. He subsequently donated Herstmonceux to the University, and now students of the Bader International Study Centre – just like students at Hogwarts – can attend their classes in a castle.
According to visitors to Herstmonceux Castle, tour guides have pointed out that it was used for some scenes in the “Chamber of Secrets” Harry Potter film and that JK Rowling has visited the castle.
As part of a prize in Coca-Cola’s 2002 Harry Potter-themed sweepstakes, Herstmonceux served as Hogwarts in a day of Harry Potter-related activities that included classes on how to play Quidditch; a sport featured in the novels where players ride flying broomsticks.
Closer to home, the University’s main campus in Kingston, Ontario features a unique study space on the top floor of Douglas Library. Originally named the “1923 Reading Room”, it is now known by the University community as the “Harry Potter Room” due to its resemblance to the films’ portrayal of Hogwarts.
The decorative hall is a favorite with students both past and present, including current Principal Daniel Woolf who recently described it as his preferred place to study when he was a student at Queen’s in the late 1970s. (see lower right)
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A graduate of both Queen’s University & Oxford, and an expert in modern British intellectual and cultural history as well as historical writings, Principal Woolf is now an avid user of Twitter.
And in September of this year, just before speaking to incoming students at the Athletics and Recreational Centre (ARC), the Principal appeared to channel the headmaster of Hogwarts when he tweeted:
“About to welcome new students at the ARC. A Dumbledore moment? Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!”
Some of those new students received yet another Rowling-inspired surprise when Residence don Mason Silveira decorated his floor in a Harry Potter theme, including a banner at the entrance which read “Welcome to Hogwarts”. (photos)
Most recently, Mason has gone on to create the University’s first Muggle Quidditch team, The Queen’s Quidditch Club – an actual sport adapted from the flying broomstick game played by Harry Potter at Hogwarts.
First establish in 2005 at Middlebury College in Vermont, Muggle Quidditch now includes hundreds of schools around the world, primarily in the United States with it 364 registered teams as well as 32 teams in Canada.
According to an article by the Queen’s Journal, Silveira said there had been mounting interest to form a Muggle Quidditch team at Queen’s and he decided to ensure one was created before he graduated.
The Queen’s Quidditch Club is registered with the International Quidditch Association, which governs the sport, and the team has already participated in the first-ever Canadian Quidditch Cup last month in Ottawa.
Some day the team may also play in the annual international tournament held in the States, as a few other Canadian University teams are doing this weekend at the 2011 Quidditch World Cup competition.
Now that the Harry Potter novels and feature films have ended, Queen’s University – with its Hogwarts themed study hall, classes held in a castle, a Dumbledore quoting Principal, and its very own Quidditch team – may be the closest thing to Hogwarts that any student can experience.
…at least until Pottermore opens up online.
Photos source: Queen’s University incl. News Centre & Library