ByAllanah Faherty, writer at
Senior staff writer | Twitter: @allanahfaherty | Email: [email protected]
Allanah Faherty

For years the students of Aberystwyth University in Wales have lovingly referred to the Old College as 'Hogwarts.' The seaside building is dramatic in appearance with huge turrets and buttresses, and instantly conjures images of the castle from the Harry Potter books and films.

But while it was initially a sweet nickname, research has actually revealed the name is more apt than originally thought. You see, this 'Welsh Hogwarts' was once home to a real life Potions Master named Professor Snape.

Dr Beth Rodgers found that in 1888, Professor Henry Lloyd Snape was appointed Chair of Chemistry (which is pretty much a Potions Master, amiright?) at Aberystwyth University. Unfortunately there aren't too many photos of Professor Snape, who passed away in 1933, but you can see him circled here with other teaching staff at the time:

Professor Snape circles/source: Irish Times
Professor Snape circles/source: Irish Times

However far from his terrifying namesake in the Harry Potter books and films, Professor Henry Lloyd Snape was described in his obituary as “energetic, keen and devoted.” In addition to Chemistry, Snape was also apparently dedicated to literature, the debating society and was a "key player in “College dramatics”." He was also awarded an OBE (Order of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 1921 for his work with disabled service men after World War I.

Aberystwyth University's Old Colldege
Aberystwyth University's Old Colldege

While there was indeed a real life Snape, J.K. Rowling actually revealed years ago that the inspiration for the Harry Potter version of the Potions Master was her childhood chemistry teacher, John Nettleship. Nettleship taught Rowling when she was a child living near Chepstown in South Wales (which is just three hours away from Aberystwyth University). Rowling also suggested that the name 'Snape' came from a Suffolk village of the same name.

Despite the fact that the real life Snape wasn't the actual inspiration for the wizard Snape, it doesn't stop me from thinking - which one would win in a competition to mix the best potion? J.K. Rowling, do you want to answer that?

Source: Aberystwyth University, via Irish Times


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