I thought I had to go to New Zealand to see Middle Earth. I was wrong.
Birmingham was my home base while in England. It was only after I arranged to stay here that I discovered that at one time, it was Tolkien’s home base too.
As a small child, around the turn of the 20th century, John Ronald Reul Tolkien lived with his mother and brother in an apartment on Wake Green Road, just across the street from what he called “a kind of lost paradise”.
One paradise he refers to is Sarehole Mill.
Little John (no reference to Robin Hood here intended, *wink wink*) and his brother would sneak into the woods and pond around the mill and play games until the miller chased them out. I imagine them tailing it like Peter Rabbit after he ate Mr. MacGregor’s vegetables, the miller waving his fists and shouting “You rascals! Stay off my property!”
Tolkien’s memories of these idyllic times were inspiration for his imagination of the Shire. Today, the mill is a museum dedicated to his legacy.
My friend Nikki was kind enough to take me on a tour of the mill and its surrounding areas.
An even more beautiful lost paradise of Tolkien is the mysterious forest of Moseley Bog. Tolkien said that these woods were his muse for the Old Forest surrounding the Shire. It’s just a green pasture’s walk away from the Mill…
These sites were among the best of those spontaneous and serendipitous gems that sometimes accompany exploring the world. I certainly never expected to find such beauty tucked away in what is the the second largest city in England. What a magical experience.