According to the American Tolkien Society this week is Tolkien Week, the week where both Frodo and Bilbo Baggins were born. We’re celebrating the sights and spots in England that shaped JRR Tolkien’s stories and imagination as a boy.
If there’s any better week to dive back into your favourite Tolkien stories, it’s this one. Fans around the world celebrate the fictional works of this great author this week with reading sessions, discussions and of course their own versions of The Long Awaited Party which falls on September 22nd, Hobbit Day, which is the birthday of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins. It’s a night of feasting, games, fireworks and costumes!
The Tolkien Trail is the best place to start if you’re looking for the beginnings of Middle Earth so it’s off to Birmingham we go! The mysterious Old Forest in Book One of The Lord of the Rings has always been thought to have been inspired by Moseley Bog, a shadowy marsh behind the house where Tolkien lived as a boy.
“The trees do not like strangers. They watch you. They are usually content merely to watch you, as long as daylight lasts.”
Tolkien didn’t base his peaceful countryside world on Cornwall or Somerset but in Birmingham. The city, however, was plenty different 70 years ago when The Hobbit was first published. Key sights on the Tolkien Trail include Tolkien’s boyhood home, at 264 Wake Green Road. Just behind you’ll reach Moseley Bog which is quite the creepy place to explore on your own but there is a walkway that takes you all the way around the bog without getting too muddy.
Sarehole Mill was where Tolkien used to play as a boy and was constantly chased away with his brother by the miller. You will recognise it as the Great Mill in The Hobbit. Today the mill is a museum.
Next is a trip to the Two Towers, on the other side of the city on Waterworks Road. The 96 foot-tall Perrott’s Folly is without a doubt the fortress of Isengard from Book Two of The Lord of the Rings. Just down the road you’ll also find Edgbaston Waterworks, an equally powerful looking fortress. When Tolkien moved to Stirling Road he would have been able to clearly see these two imposing towers standing tall above the houses from his window.
Tolkien’s houses growing up:
- 264 Wake Green Road, Hall Green
- 214 Alcester Road, Moseley
- 25 Stirling Road, Edgbaston
- 37 Duchess Road, Edgbaston
- 4 HIghfield Road, Edgbaston
Places he used to play:
- Sarehole Mill, Hall Green open to the public from Easter to October 31st
- Moseley Bog, accessible year-round
- Edgbaston Waterworks Tower and Perrott’s Folly
New Zealand has made its mark on on the global Tolkien Trail though and today fans of all ages head to the film locations for Peter Jackson’s trilogy to explore Middle Earth and take photos outside the tiny hobbit houses. If you need a quick escape, take a photographic journey to Middle Earth.
What is your favourite Tolkien character or book?