My only wish while we wandered the Shire is that everyone would go away and I could soak up the magic of this little town with homes in the ground, fire coming out of chimneys and all the round doors. It is a place where round doors and gardens and tiny mailboxes with such attention to detail that you were transported to another world. Even the bus ride to the site played the theme song with a little history before we got there.
I love homes, especially where the home fires are burning…
We bought a home in New Zealand! It does need some remodeling as it only goes back about 4 feet and is all dirt…it’s a true makeover project.
They filmed the 2 trilogies in over 150 sights and it took 9 years from finding the land to making its way to the movie screen. Sir Peter Jackson, Director of the films flew over both north and south islands to find the perfect locations. When he flew over the Alexander Ranch on the north island and found a large pond with a majestic tree and beautiful rolling hills he knew he had found the perfect spot for Hobbiton! They filmed for 3 months in the Lord of the Rings here and only 13 days for the Hobbit films.
Almost immediately after the premiere of The Fellowship of the Ring they began showing people around. Since the original set was never designed to last, it was a pale imitation of its current set-up. Alexander, the farmland owner and Sir Peter Jackson the director, partnered up to build a new version of Hobbiton using permanent materials designed to last and taking into account the locations popularity with tourists. Now when you visit the location, everything looks real and you wonder if you opened a Hobbit hole, what might be lurking inside. No matter what direction you look in, there are no tall buildings, roads, or power lines. You don’t see anything but green hills and tall trees. The skyline is just white clouds floating by.
When I walked up to get my picture I noticed this little watering can for flowers and I just could not help myself…
Gandalf’s Cutting – This is the path that leads you into Hobbiton. You will see several scenes where Gandalf and Frodo ride out of the Shire. You see the young Bilbo Baggins run through it when he decides he wants to go on the great adventure after all and runs to catch up with Gandalf and the dwarfs.
Attention to detail
Sir Peter Jackson, director of the film was fanatical about every detail. Because the book describes the pear trees that the children would eat from he tried to find some to plant that were miniature. He could not find any so he settled for miniature apple trees. After all, the hobbits were only 3 to 3 1/2 feet tall. How could they reach them? Each house had it’s own unique mailbox and one home had it’s own woodshed with small pieces of chopped wood for their small fireplaces. Each home had the same quality of thatched roofing. For ambiance, they set up fire boxes just inside the facade chimneys so that smoke was coming out of them.
Samwise Gamgee’s hobbit home. This is the last scene you see in Lord of the Rings. The little boy that Sam picks us is actually his son and the baby girl that his wife (actress) was holding was her daughter in real life. They used quite a few of the casts children in the scenes with families.
If you can ignore the golf cart you will recognize the home of the Baggins. Their home was on top the hill because they were the wealthiest in the town. Apparently even the hobbits had their own class system. These are the stairs that lead to his famous round door with the carving that Gandalf left on it!
The tree above the Baggins home is the only tree that is not real on the property. Sir Peter Jackson had the tree from the book replicated. It has over 200,000 leaves individually wired to the branches. Before filming, Sir Peter fell ill and so it postponed the filming. When they returned the leaves had faded and changed color just enough that Sir Peter had them all removed and hand painted. You will see this tree for only 6 seconds in the film. I told you he was a bit crazy about detail. They take the branches down one limb at a time…note the knot in the tree where one branch is off being re-leafed.
Below is the Dragon Inn where we were served Ginger Beer along with all the little children while the adults drank a dark ale real beer. They served a delicious beef and ale pie too. Both were delicious. The ambiance warmed your soul…or maybe it was the ale?!
The park where they celebrated with Gandalf’s fire works.
Again…this pond was an important detail to the shire because in the book it speaks of the frogs. The sound was important to the natural ambiance of the movie. The problem was that the frogs quickly multiplied and soon enough all you could here was the croaking. The actors had a hard time even hearing direction. So they removed most of them safely (according to the tour guide) to another farm and replaced them when filming was over (according to the tour guide). I’m not sure how they identified which ones belonged back at the pond:).
Beyond the shire was breathtaking.
Never a more appropriate bit of wisdom for then and now
To end our day we went to the glow worm caves. It was interesting but not really worth taking space on this already very long blog post… In the end it was a lovely day in middle earth.
(We find the best little places to eat in the least expected places!)