Age: Uncertain. Dobby has a birthday: 28 June. But the year is unspecified so we don’t really know his age.
Distinguishing features? Quite short; long, thin nose; bat-like ears; big, bulging green eyes; lacks confidence; refers to himself in the third person: “Dobby will have to punish himself most grievously for coming to see you, sir.”
That’s annoying. Also a little subservient, no? Indeed. Dobby is a house-elf, a kind of magical servant for life, though in fact he was later freed.
Got it! Harry Potter, right? Correct!
Remind me what happened to Dobby? He died. It was quite a brutal read.
I vaguely recall this. Slain with a silver knife thrown by the witch Bellatrix Lestrange, Dobby died in Harry’s arms. “Such a beautiful place … to be with friends,” he gasped. “Dobby is a happy elf to be with his friend … Harry Potter.”
Now I remember! I cried watching the film, even if Dobby was a bit annoying. So what’s new, is he back? No, but some people want him – more specifically his grave – gone even more permanently.
It was a beautiful resting place on a beach, right? Yes, in the film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One, the demise of Dobby, voiced by Toby Jones, was shot on Freshwater West beach in Pembrokeshire. Since then it has become a shrine for Potter fans. There’s a big pile of painted stones, messages, socks …
Socks? You’ll remember that Dobby was freed from his enslavement to the Malfoys with a sock, after which socks became his favourite gift.
All coming back. So, a shrine, that’s nice. Unless, perhaps, you’re a grey seal, a harbour porpoise or a ground nesting bird.
They don’t wear socks? They don’t. And there are concerns that high visitor numbers and pollution are damaging the environment. Freshwater West is a protected conservation area, home to not just to birds, seals and porpoises, but lizards and orchids, too. The National Trust, which manages the beach, has conducted a consultation that asked whether Dobby’s grave needed to be relocated. There were more than 5,000 responses.
A beautiful place, too many friends perhaps. What’s the outcome? It can stay. For now.
Yay! But they’re asking people to take only photos, and not to leave socks and stuff.
Painted pebbles? Not good, paint chips can get into the marine environment, putting wildlife at risk. Oh, they’re going to improve access and toilet facilities, and start charging for car parking.
Milking the Harry Potter cash cow. The trust says it will enable important conservation work at the site.
Do say: “Here lies Dobby. A free elf.”
Don’t say: “Here lies Dobby. A free-for-all. Plus free parking.”