The Shambles shares an uncanny resemblance to the fictional Diagon Alley which has led many Harry Potter fans to believe the location was JK Rowling’s inspiration. Diagon Alley is described as a cobblestoned street filled with everything a wizard could need. Several of the buildings on The Shambles date back to the 14th century, making it one of the best-preserved medieval shopping streets in Europe.
Hogwarts students would head to Diagon Alley for their school supplies from book shop Flourish & Blotts and Scribbulus Writing Instruments.
Today’s visitors can head to paper and stationery shop, Paperesque, which sells handmade papers, journals and calligraphy sets. Then, about five minutes’ walk away on Minster Gates you’ll find Minster Gate Bookshop, an amazing 16th century building over several floors with narrow corridors, creaking stairs, and thousands of second-hand and antiquarian books.
Shoppers can even pick up a wand on The Shambles from one of the Harry Potter-themed shops at the end of the street: The Enchanted Galaxy (formerly the World of Wizardry), Galaxy Geek (formerly The Boy Wizard), or the original Harry Potter store, The Shop That Must Not Be Named, which currently has a display of wands in its windows.
Elsewhere you’ll find Bao, selling steamed buns filled with a variety of flavours from char siu pork to chocolate, and just around the corner on the Little Shambles (not as dangerous as Knockturn Alley!) you’ll find the award-winning Bluebird Bakery, which sells amazing savoury Danishes and superb sourdoughs.
The wizarding pub The Leaky Cauldron is said to be the haunt of warlocks, dwarves and hags as well as a place for witches and wizards to enjoy a drink – but this is no match for the Golden Fleece, located at the bottom of the Shambles on Pavement. The pub is supposedly home to 14 ghosts and even appeared on an episode of Most Haunted .
And finally, though there is no Gringotts Wizarding Bank on The Shambles, there is a branch of Lloyds further along Pavement – but it’s not certain if any goblins work there…
Additional reporting by Bethan Shufflebotham.