A visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set – Part 2

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.

Bagshot Row on the Hobbiton Movie et
Sam Gamgee’s house in Bagshot Row on the Hobbiton Movie set.

But then, how often can you visit Hobbiton? For real. OK, it’s the movie set, not the real thing. But heeeeey.

A barrel of hobbit ale near the Green Dragon Inn.
A barrel of Delving and Oatlock ale near the Green Dragon Inn. What? No Nosefinger and Barrelgutts suds?
Set dressing: a wheelbarrow - Hobbit-sized - in Hobbiton.
Set dressing: a wheelbarrow – Hobbit-sized – in Hobbiton.

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.

The Green Dragon, bridge and Sandyman's Mill - the latter under construction and yet to be fully clad in Ye Olde Materials.
The Green Dragon, bridge and Sandyman’s Mill – the latter under construction and yet to be fully clad in Ye Olde Materials, with Waikato countryside beyond.
Sandyman's Mill on The Water - lowered here because it was being reconstructed when I visited.
Sandyman’s Mill on The Water – the half finished in ‘hobbit’ look, as opposed to the other side which appeared to be still Hardyplank and zincalume.

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.

Close up of Sandyman's Mill.
Close up of Sandyman’s Mill.

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.

Inside the Green Dragon.
Inside the Green Dragon. Hand-held photo in natural light.

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.

Hobbit sign on the way back to the bus.
Hobbit sign on the way back to the bus.

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


16 thoughts on “A visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set – Part 2

  1. Just wonderful Matthew! One of these days, before I’m too old to put on my own shoes, I hope to do the Hobbit tour. LOL my son in law goes all dreamy-eyed and drools every time he talks about his and my daughter’s trip to NZ🙂

    1. It’s been wonderfully rendered – exactly as Tolkien describe it. And, indeed, homey and comfortable. There was a fireplace in the corner of the Green Dragon and I could just imagine sitting there on a wet and raining afternoon with the fire roaring, a pot of ale to hand, and a manuscript to write… sigh…

  2. Thank you for this wonderful tour of Hobbiton! I loved your photos and savored your descriptions — but it was all over far too quickly. Much like your experience there, I suppose? 🙂 Thank you just the same for taking us along.

    1. The tour lasted about 90 minutes and was over way too soon! I should publish the photos of the scrum outside the one hobbit hole that could be entered. Glad you liked the posts – and I can say that for all its brevity, it was an amazing experience to take the tour.

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