A guided walk of Tolkien’s original Shire, in Birmingham

It’s there and back again for our writer, who takes in Hobbiton, the mill, the Old Forest and the author’s childhood home – all in the suburb of Sarehole

‘It was kind of a lost paradise,” JRR Tolkien told the Guardian in an interview in 1966. “There was an old mill that really did grind corn, with two millers, a great big pond with swans on it, a sandpit, a wonderful dell with flowers, a few old-fashioned village houses and, further away, a stream with another mill.”

Four miles south of central Birmingham in the Hall Green area lies the inspiration for Tolkien’s Shire – the former hamlet of Sarehole. Tolkien lived here from 1896, between the ages of four and eight. “I loved it [Sarehole] with an intense love,” he said. “I took the idea of the Hobbits from the village people and children.”

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