Sarehole as the inspiration for the Shire in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings

Sarehole Mill. PHOTO CREDIT: Oosoom. This photo is licensed under the the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

“Forty leagues it stretched from the Far Downs to the Brandywine Bridge, and fifty from the northern moors to the marches in the south. The Hobbits named it the Shire, as the region of the authority of their Thain, and a district of well-ordered business; and there in that pleasant corner of the world they plied their well-ordered business of living, and they heeded less and less the world outside where dark things moved, until they came to think that peace and plenty were the rule in Middle-earth and the right of all sensible folk.”1

Frodo Baggins, a simple innocent hobbit in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, resides in the Shire, a comfortable landscape characterized by peace and growing oblivion from the outside world. Carefree and youthful, Frodo is content to live his life with his fellow hobbits in the Shire, until he is ultimately forced to undertake the burden of saving Middle Earth from the evil and desolation of Mordor. Along with an eclectic group of heroes, known as The Fellowship, Frodo traverses the whole of Middle Earth on a journey filled with pain and adventure. Throughout all this, the Shire becomes Frodo’s one source of light; a symbol of hope and peace that guides him in his six month journey.

Sarehole is located in Hall Green, Birmingham, England and was the inspiration for the Shire in The Lord of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien lived there as a child and took the vast green landscape and transformed it into a beautiful home for his hobbits. There are tunnels in Sarehole which helped Tolkien to design the hobbits’ characteristic houses, with their circular entrances and a mill which is mentioned in The Fellowship of the Ring. In his description of the Shire’s tranquility and beauty, Tolkien created the perfect paradise for his race of peaceful hobbits.

Check out this excellent map of The Lord of the Rings at the LOTR Project. Read more about Sarehole on Wikipedia. Find Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring at a local library or on Amazon.

1Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings; Part I The Fellowship of the Ring. New York: Del Ray Book The Random House Group, 1996. Print.

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