I posted the other week on my visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set – and promised a second part. I took, of course, far too many photos.
But then, how often can you visit Hobbiton? For real. OK, it’s the movie set, not the real thing. But heeeeey.
The set is laid out in a valley much as Tolkien described it, with the Party Field and tree beneath Bag End, and The Water beyond that, complete with Sandyman’s Mill and the Green Dragon – the fabled inn where hobbits went to socialise at the end of the day.
As I follow the tour group down to the mill, bridge and pub, I reflect that Tolkien had very specific ideas in mind with his hobbits and their society. He was, he revealed once, using them to satirise specific 1890s village life in England, one where expected ‘proper’ behaviour and social place was paramount.
So of course everybody in the Shire was expected to be complacent and live their hobbit lives, and worry about the best china, and look down their noses when that fellow Baggins went off on – well, Adventures
Sandyman’s Mill is half-reconstructed; it was built as a shell for the movies. Now it’s being rebuilt as a conference centre. It’s intriguing to see the way it’s been done. Modern construction and building materials will be overlaid by the thatch, wattle and wood of Merrie England.
The stone bridge leading to the Green Dragon is a real stone bridge. Of course. But everything is here. Real, I mean. Not a film prop.
I’ve still got my camera in hand as I enter the Green Dragon – a place I’ve only ever read about in fiction – and seen in the movies. Hobbiton’s Green Dragon inn. The place where hobbits go to socialise.
Tolkien envisaged it as a classic British pub – very similar, no doubt, to Oxford’s Eagle and Child where he and his fellow ‘Inklings’ met every week to swap their stories. And that’s how the real thing has been finished, too. It’s human-sized, but redolent of Tolkien’s Arts and Crafts-style descriptions; adzed wooden beams, stone floor, wooden bar and a fire roaring in the hearth.
There’s are pottery mugs of ale waiting for the tour group on the counter. Hobbit ale – especially made by an Auckland micro-brewery for the Hobbiton Movie Set. I eschew it for the custom ginger beer.
We’re only there fifteen minutes – these tours are pumped through at a rate – and then we’re on our way back through the bottom of Hobbiton, past The Water and a few more Hobbit holes, and back to the bus.
We leave, like all good tourists should, wanting more.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015