Essay: The Layout of the Burrow

by Josie Kearns, October 2007; substantially modified and updated August 2009.
 

Aside from Hogwarts, there is no wizarding building that we know more about than the Burrow. It’s Harry’s “second favorite building in the world” and one that he visits at least five times while growing up. It’s also one of the few buildings for which we know almost the entire layout. The ground floor, of course, features the kitchen, the sitting room, a small laundry room, and a small hallway leading to the towering, rickety stairs. But once we start up the rickety stairs, things become a lot more muddled – so I thought I’d take a shot at figuring out just what exactly is upstairs. As it turns out, there are more than just rooms – I found some stories to go along with them, too. :)

First let’s tackle the question of how many bedrooms there are in the Burrow; after that we’ll be able to look at where each one is located.

How many bedrooms are there in the Burrow?

We get clues to this three times. Most recently, when guests descended upon the Burrow for Bill and Fleur’s wedding, we learned where everyone was sleeping in DH6:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Weasley slept in the sitting room;
  • The Delacours took the master bedroom;
  • Gabrielle and Fleur shared Percy’s old bedroom;
  • Bill and Charlie stayed in Bill’s room;
  • Ron shared his room with Harry;
  • Hermione stayed with Ginny in Ginny’s room;
  • Fred and George most likely stayed in their own room, as it was never stated where they slept except that they stayed at the Burrow, and nobody else was described as using their room.

This means the Burrow has six bedrooms: the master bedroom and a room each for Bill, Percy, the twins, Ron, and Ginny. This raises one obvious question: what about Charlie? Didn’t he have a bedroom? But we’ll get to that in a bit. First, there are a couple of other times where we learn exactly who is staying everywhere. This next one is from Christmas of 1996, when Molly ticks off the list in HBP16:

  • She asks Fred and George to share their room with Bill;
  • This allows Lupin to stay in Bill’s room;
  • Harry and Ron stay in Ron’s bedroom, “the attic;”
  • Ginny memorably shares her room with Fleur;
  • Presumably Molly and Arthur remain in the master bedroom.

There is no mention of Percy’s bedroom, though we already know he has a room of his own (from GF5). However, given that Molly spends much of that holiday hoping he’ll come home despite his estrangement from the family, I’d say it’s fairly certain Molly is leaving Percy’s room open for him so he’ll feel welcome if he does choose to return. Once again, that would leave the house with six bedrooms.

The other time we get a glimpse into the layout is two years earlier, in GF5, when a crowd descends upon the house to come see the Quidditch World Cup:

  • Ron, Harry, Fred and George all squeeze into Ron’s attic room;
  • Bill and Charlie take the twins’ bedroom;
  • Percy keeps his own room because he’s working;
  • Though not explicitly stated, it’s implied that Hermione is staying with Ginny; and
  • No other bedrooms are specifically mentioned, but the only other folks staying at the Burrow are Arthur and Molly, presumably in the master bedroom.

In light of our later discoveries, this setup (only five bedrooms) doesn’t make much sense. There are lots of possible explanations, of course: Hermione could in fact have Bill’s room to herself; the Weasleys could have added a bedroom at some point between this year and two years later; or Rowling could have just screwed up the numbers at some point (which wouldn’t be unprecedented). But I actually think in this case another explanation is the best – and that we in fact know what that explanation is.

In the middle of writing Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling hit a huge plot snag and had to go back and cut large portions of what she’d written. One of the casualties was a character named Mafalda, a cousin of the Weasleys who, in the original plot, was supposed to have stayed with the Weasleys for the whole summer. You can read more about the character on Rowling’s website if you like, but I’d be willing to bet Rowling was planning there to be six bedrooms in the Burrow all along, and this particular summer she originally divided them like this:

  • The Master Bedroom;
  • Bill’s room (where Mafalda stayed, because it was the only room open for most of the summer);
  • Percy’s room;
  • Fred/George’s room (where Bill and Charlie stayed while visiting, since Mafalda was in Bill’s room);
  • Ron’s room (where Harry, Fred, and George piled in when the house was full);
  • and Ginny’s room (with Hermione).

Mafalda was supposed to be an obnoxious Slytherin who none of the Weasleys liked dealing with, so it makes sense she would have her own room (would you kick her out?). And when Mafalda was cut, I’d be willing to bet some pieces of this chapter were kept, including the throwaway line that Fred and George were cramming in with Harry and Ron. Mafalda made it into the books after all!

At any rate, whatever the reason, we know the Burrow ends up with six bedrooms; so from this point forward, let’s work with that assumption.

Where are all of the bedrooms located?

Here’s what we know:

  • Ginny’s bedroom is on the first floor (from DH7);
  • Fred and George’s room is on the second floor (Harry sleeps there in HBP5);
  • Percy’s bedroom is on the “second landing” (Harry, Ron, and Ginny bother him there in GF5, and then walk up to…)
  • Ron’s bedroom, which is three flights above Percy’s (GF5) and two flights above the third floor (CS3);
  • Molly and Arthur’s bedroom is a very short walk away from Ron’s room (in DH6);
  • and the location of Bill’s room is never mentioned.

Now, a “flight” of stairs, a “landing,” and a “floor” do not necessarily have to equate to the same thing. There could be landings on the stairs between floors, so that two “flights” of stairs connect two adjacent floors. And, especially given the Burrow’s appearance of being cobbled together by magic, it’s certainly possible that this isn’t even consistent throughout the house (for example, there could only be one landing per floor on the first few floors, and then an extra landing between the third and fourth floors). However, it seems most likely that when Rowling writes about the Burrow, this is not what she’s thinking.

The reason I think this is straightforward: the floors do make sense if we use a more regular approach of one flight of stairs between floors, a landing on each floor, and no more. Additionally, Rowling is known for planning things out in detail, yet simultaneously for being bad with numbers and figures – making me think she has the layout in her head, and it’s likely simple. Besides, if backbends aren’t required to make it work, why should we try to do them? It’s not the only plausible explanation, I’ll admit, but I believe it’s by far the best. And the Burrow can certainly still look “cobbled together” with a traditional layout – the phrase comments much more on the manner in which it was constructed than anything else.

Given this, then, let’s start assigning floors. Remember, Americans, that in Britain the first floor is the floor *above* the ground floor, not the same thing:

  • First floor: Ginny
  • Second floor: Percy, Fred and George
  • Third floor: none
  • Fourth floor: none
  • Fifth Floor: Ron
  • Unknown: Master bedroom, Bill’s bedroom

Let’s tackle the master bedroom first.

On which floor is the master bedroom?

In DH6 it is clear that the trip from Ron’s bedroom to the master bedroom is a very quick one. It even seems that they might be on the same floor. However, looking at the floor guide we just created, this doesn’t make a lot of sense. At least one floor would be left with no bedrooms at all, and to have two such large rooms at the top, the Burrow would have to be shaped like a mushroom. Further, Ron’s bedroom is often referred to as being in the “attic” – and why would Molly say this if her bedroom was up there as well? It makes much more sense for the master bedroom to be located one floor below Ron’s, on the fourth floor. This now leaves us with:

  • First floor: Ginny
  • Second floor: Percy, Fred and George
  • Third floor: none
  • Fourth floor: Master bedroom
  • Fifth Floor: Ron
  • Unknown: Bill’s bedroom

Let’s tackle Bill’s room next.

On which floor is Bill’s bedroom?

There seem to be two equally logical places that Bill’s bedroom could fall. Either it could fill the space on the third floor, where we currently have no bedrooms at all, or it could sit next to Ginny’s room on the first floor. I actually like the second possibility better: remember that Ginny’s room is described as “very small,” and both the floor below and the floor above it have multiple rooms. This would mean the house would look like this:

  • First floor: Bill, Ginny
  • Second floor: Percy, Fred and George
  • Third floor: none
  • Fourth floor: Master bedroom
  • Fifth Floor: Ron

There’s another reason I like this explanation too, though, which fits in with our earlier unanswered question about Charlie.

Why doesn’t Charlie have a bedroom?

As I was thinking about these two questions (Charlie’s room and where to put Bill’s room), it dawned on me that, from the bottom of the house to the top, the bedrooms roughly fall chronologically. There’s a space on the first floor where it would make sense for Bill’s room to be; Percy and Fred and George, kids number 3-5, are on the second floor; Ron is at the top. The only exception is Ginny. Why would she be so close to the ground floor, in a room that almost certainly would have been assigned to an older sibling before she ever even came along? Then the answer hit me: because it was assigned to an older sibling before she came along. Ginny’s room used to belong to Charlie.

This works because Charlie left for Hogwarts around the same time that Ginny would have started needing her own room, when she had just turned three. Prior to this she easily could have shared with Ron, or else slept in her parents’ bedroom (she was their precious little girl, after all). And since Bill and Charlie were going to be gone most of the year anyway, they could share the larger of their two bedrooms when home (Bill’s – he was the oldest), and Ginny could take the smaller one for herself (Charlie’s). For a time Bill’s room would have become “Bill and Charlie’s room,” but since Bill moved back to England in 1995 to help the Order of the Phoenix while Charlie remained thousands of miles away in Romania, it became “Bill’s room” once again, though he still shares it with Charlie whenever his brother comes back to visit.

So what about the third floor?

This layout still leaves the third floor empty. Prior to Deathly Hallows, it was widely assumed that Ginny’s bedroom was on the third floor, as this was where Harry saw her poking her head out of a door on his first visit to the Burrow. But we now know that her room is on the first floor, so that leaves… what exactly? We know there isn’t another bedroom. Perhaps there’s a small office here, or perhaps more likely, a couple of bathrooms. The (presumably larger) master bedroom being above this level would certainly contribute to the house’s looking like it’s held up by magic!

 

A version of this essay originally appeared on the Harry Potter Lexicon.

 


19 Responses to “Essay: The Layout of the Burrow”

  1. I remember how much fun I thought this essay was when I first read it – and this new version makes total sense! Now to tackle the next question: where will everyone sleep during Weasley family reunions? Six bedrooms divided up among six couples, Charlie, and about a dozen kids. Sounds somehwat cramped!

  2. I love the way that the things in Rowling’s world can be so thoroughly explored and thought out. It really makes The Burrow seem like a real home, and who’s to say it isn’t? ;) I think that it would make perfect sense that the third floor have some sort of storage area (with all those kids over the years they must have collected a lot of stuff) and maybe a laundry room? Hermione mentions something about it in DH. Although the washing itself might be done with magic, I think that you would still need a space to do it in. Besides, if it was on the third floor, it would put it in a central location, which would both have its benefits.

  3. NIce essay. I enjoyed reading it. Don’t forget about the Ghoul! He was a room too, doesn’t he? Like a tiny attic above Ron’s room, isn’t it?

  4. NIce essay. I enjoyed reading it. Don’t forget about the Ghoul! He was a room too doesn’t he? Like a tiny attic above Ron’s room, isn’t it?

  5. oh, sorry for posting twice. My computer was being weird.

  6. I always wondered WHY the twins had to share Ron’s room with Harry before going to the World Cup. I just assumed I was missing something when I read it….but this makes a lot of sense!! Thanks for the essay!

  7. It also makes a lot more sense that Hermione and Ginny shared their tent with Mafalda during the World Cup, when there were 7 men sharing the other one. I mean, 7 people in one tent, and 2 in another, just because they’re of different genders? Seems a little bit prude, doesn’t it?

  8. Prude? Not at all. That’s exactly how we do it on church camping trips, and I always stay in a different hotel room (or at least, room within the hotel room) than my other siblings. Also, I shared a small bedroom with 3 of my siblings, while my oldest sibling got their own room because they needed privacy.

  9. Don’t forget that it was mentioned that Fred and George had their own room, though it would be assumed anyway, when Ron(I think) says that they had been hearing bangs and shouts or something coming from the twins room all summer. Also, another idea about not having enough rooms is that Ron and Percy were sharing a room until one of the older boys moved out and then they each got their own, especially once Percy left school and needed his own space to work.

  10. Maybe we will get a map from JK on Pottermore…! Then we can test this superb theory :D

  11. How about the layout of 12 Grimmauld Place? That’s what I can’t figure out. How many levels does it have? How come the whole Weasley family and Sirious and Harry and Hermione can sleep in it, not even using Regulus’ room?

  12. @Thestral- I always thought of Grimmauld Place being very big, with up to 20 bedrooms. It makes sense to me that there is a lot of bedrooms and if generations lived inside it then there might of been a lot of people too. For all we know, Sirius’ father could of came from a large family and so yeah. :D
    But I have no clue how many floors there could be, hard to say.

  13. Here’s my rough layout for Weasley family reunions, using this excellent idea. (:

    In the sitting room: Charlie (he has no family)
    In Bill’s room: Ginny, Harry, James, Albus, Lily (it’s one of the larger ones) In Ginny’s room: Molly and Arthur(It’s big enough for just the two of them)
    In Percy’s room: Percy, Audrey, Molly, Lucy;
    In George’s room: George, Angelina, Fred II, Roxanne;
    In the master bedroom; Bill, Fleur, Victoire, Dominique, Louis(their kids are older and need the most space)
    In Ron’s room: Ron, Hermione, Rosie, Hugo

    It’s not very good, but it’s the best I could come up with.

  14. Oh my gosh. jk rowling put so much work in to something that would hav gone unnoticed. Love her for that!!!!!!!!! And then u figured it all out!! Thx for the hard work!!! The thing with Ginny taking charlies room was a good find!!! Don’t think I could hav gotten that!! Cool essay!!!!!!

  15. only problem with hte whole “adding rooms as the famly grows” thing is that the master bedroom iis on 4th floor

  16. great essay on the burrow house. With what i have found over the years. I would said that the burrow consisted of GF kitchen, sitting room and store areas. FF ginny’s room, bill’s and charlie room. SF fred george and percy’s room. TF utility room , bathroom and small study. FrF master bedroom and bathroom. Attic ron’s room and storage room.

    I love the fact that with the detail on the borrow house was fantastic, also not loosing the adventure of trying to discover who’s room where and why. I think that make the burrow house more mystery like.

  17. Nice stuff. Essay makes total sense. Especially the point about Malfalda!
    CentaurShadow, the master bedroom could have been Bill,s room in the early days, then on the floor with Percy, before they moved to the 4th floor.

  18. wow, this essay is really smart! i couldnt have figured it out! thanks its helped so much! xx XD

  19. I really like the idea of having Charlie’s room become Ginny’s room—and the point about ‘falling chronologically’.

    @CentaurShadow—I think that before they had kids, the Burrow was two floors: living area on the ground floor and master bedroom on second floor (not counting the attic). When Bill came around, they gave up their master and added it on with a second floor. When Charlie was born, they split Bill’s bedroom (after all, it must have been quite big for a baby). Percy next. He got the second floor bedroom—formerly the master—and they added two new floors: one for a bathroom to accomodate their newly growing family and one for the new master. Then the twins—they need space, there’s two of them. They get the master and Molly and Arthur move up another floor. Then Ron. He gets the attic—frankly, by now the Burrow is quite large to be adding a new room. Then Ginny. The Burrow is too big to add another bedroom by now, so Ginny shares with Ron until Charlie goes to Hogwarts and his bedroom is largely unoccupied.

    That’s just my explanation of the ‘master-on-the-fourth-floor’ thing.

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