Harry Potter: National Trust asks fans to stop leaving tributes by Dobby’s beach grave

 (AP)
(AP)

Harry Potter fans have been asked to stop leaving tributes on the beach where the house-elf Dobby’s death was filmed. The grave, which pays tribute to the beloved Harry Potter character, sits on the Freshwater Beach West in Pembrokeshire, a legally protected conservation area.

Jonathan Hughes, the National Trust’s south Wales assistant director of operations said: “We have to balance the popularity of the site with impacts on the sensitive nature of the beach and wider environment, and pressure on the facilities and surrounding roads.”

In May, the conservation charity released a survey about the beach, which included a question about whether the memorial site, where fans tend to leave socks and pebbles, should be left where it was, or moved to a “suitable publicly accessible location off-site".

“Over time, the much-loved Freshwater West has become increasingly popular,” the National Trust said in the survey. The beach now welcomes more than 75,000 visitors a year.

“Access to nature and the outdoors for all is vitally important but the increase in visitors has added additional pressure on the environment and facilities… we hope elements within this menu of options will help get closer to a viable, sustainable and environmentally respectful future solution for the management of this special place,” it added.

Twitter users at the time were split over the decision. “Honour him with a bank holiday but a memorial is a bit much,” one wrote about the grave, while another commented: “Leave it be, it’s lovely and it’s not doing any harm. Removing it is pointless, people will still visit there, leave Dobby [to] rest in peace!”

After the consultation, the National Trust concluded that the makeshift grave would stay, “in the immediate term for people to enjoy,” adding that, “The trust is asking visitors to only take photos... Items like socks, trinkets, and paint chips from painted pebbles could enter the marine environment and food chain and put wildlife at risk.”

In its Executive Summary, the National Trust said: “The management of ‘Dobby’s Grave’ requires further liaison between relevant stakeholders to reach a ‘middle-ground’ which allows access but provides a more sensitive solution for the local environment. The involvement of one or more local charities or groups is suggested in terms of adopting a role in overseeing the site in future.”

Freshwater Beach West is home to both wildlife and plant life, including rare ground-nesting birds and lizards, which have been disturbed by the increase in traffic. In 2018, the National Trust set up a steering group to try and find more sustainable solutions.

Dobby, who first appeared in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was enslaved to the Malfoy family before being freed by Harry at the end of the first book and film. He then repaid the favour in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by spiriting Harry and his friends to safety but was hit by a flying knife and died shortly afterwards. In the book, Harry digs a grave for Dobby on the beach, marking it with a stone that says: “Here lies Dobby, a free elf”.

The National Trust Cymru is holding a drop-in session on the issue at The Stackpole Centre, Stackpole, Pembroke, between 2 pm and 7 pm on November 10.