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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban chapter 1 describes the first six weeks of Harry's second summer holidays, which he's spent at the Dursley's home at Privet Drive. It specifically says that he has his cauldron there in a cupboard.

The most the Dursleys could do these days was to lock away Harry's spellbooks, wand, cauldron and broomstick at the start of the summer holidays, and forbid him to talk to the neighbours.

Now, Harry has bought this cauldron two years ago, and uses it at Hogwarts every year for Potions lessons. There seems no chance that he's use the cauldron for anything during the summer holidays. Why did he take the cauldron home, rather than leaving it in Hogwarts?

I can mostly understand why he took his other possessions. The owl Hedwig needed care and served as company for him, he needed his spellbooks to write homework, and I can understand why he wouldn't want to part from his wand or the Nimbus Two Thousand rancing broom, which is described as “one of Harry's most prized possessions” in the same chapter. But none of this applies to his cauldron.

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    A corollary and, perhaps even more interesting, question: what did Hogwarts do with the several hundred cauldrons in regular use during terms? There's no mention (that I can recall) of students lugging their cauldrons with them back and forth from potions class, so presumably they were stored somewhere in or around the potions classroom—but there must be hundreds, and they had to be constantly replaced for new classes… short of an unmentioned, second Room of Requirement, that seems rather like a challenge. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 21 '15 at 0:25
  • The cauldrons could have been magicked to class like their food and stuff like that – Bernard the Bear Apr 8 '18 at 19:17
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Basing this answer purely on my own experiences of boarding school, the most obvious explanation is that you take all of your crap home at the end of the year or else it gets thrown away.

Since the novels are largely based on JKR's conversations with various boarding school alumni, it seems highly likely that such a principle would also apply to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

  • Page 54 – Valorum Dec 20 '15 at 20:00
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    As a US boarding school alum, I can note that we were provided with summer storage at the school if it was clear we would be returning the following school year, and would claim our belongings. This is purely anectodal, and UK boarding school might operate under a different practice. It's clear in canon that Hogwarts did not provide storage. – Slytherincess Dec 20 '15 at 20:04
  • @Slytherincess - I look forward to this answer being superseded by something more canonical. When I read the books, I didn't even spare it a second thought why he had all his magic stuff there. – Valorum Dec 20 '15 at 20:06
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    Summer storage might be the reality - but the "legend" of boarding school is having to pack everything back into a big trunk and riding home on the train (most people these days would be driven to boarding school). – HorusKol Dec 21 '15 at 0:29
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Richard is correct in that all Hogwarts students take all their belongings home with them for the summer holiday (Canon doesn't mention any special dispensations for leaving belongings at Hogwarts for summer storage.). Here's a quote from Prisoner of Azkaban:

Harry had spent most of the last two years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The most the Dursleys could do these days was to lock away Harry’s spellbooks, wand, cauldron and broomstick at the start of the summer holidays, and forbid him to talk to the neighbours.

Prisoner of Azkaban - Chapter One, Owl Post - Page 8 - Bloomsbury

Harry took his cauldron to No. 4 Privet Drive because he had to take his belongings with him for the summer holidays; the Dursleys locked his possessions away during the summer, so the cauldron would have been of no practical use to Harry over the summer.

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    You have noticed that your quote is the exact same one (just with an extra line) as the one in the question, right? – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 21 '15 at 0:22

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