Over the Hill on the road into the Shire, a welcome sight to someone who loves the Lord of the Rings. I entered into Hobbiton, the home of the Hobbiton Movie Set where The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies were filmed.
Welcome to the Alexanders’ 1250 acre sheep and beef farm just outside of Matamata. In 1998 Sir Peter Jackson discovered the Alexander farm during an aerial search. Site construction began in 1999. Initially this involved heavy earth moving machinery provided by the New Zealand Army who built a 1.5 Km road into the site and under took the beginning of the set development.
Forty four Hobbit holes were created. The oak tree that overlooks Bag End was cut down and transported in from near Matamata. Each branch was numbered and chopped, then transported and bolted together on top of Bag End (weighing 26 ton). Artificial leaves were brought in from Taiwan and individually wired onto the tree. The Mill and double arch bridge were built out of temporary materials . Thatch roofs of the Green Dragon Inn and the Mill were cut from the rushes around the farm.
When the filming for Lord of the Rings was completed, the set was to be torn down, but weather prevented that from being completed. The equipment was too heavy for the rain soaked roads. Then the decision to do The Hobbit, and everything was rebuilt but this time out of permanent materials including an artificial tree out of steel and silicon. The reconstruction took two years. Today, the set is maintained to keep the magic of The Shire alive. The Alexanders still have the active sheep and beef farm around the movie set. It is still farmed the same today and is run by the brothers and their father.
The property runs approximately 13,000 sheep and 300 Angus beef cattle hence the major sources of income are mutton, wool and beef. The brothers shear all the sheep on the property themselves, approximately every eight months.
Peter Jackson’s children appeared as hobbit children in Fellowship of the Ring.
I have only included two shots of the hill where Bags End and Bilbo’s Hole was, taken from the field where the dragon swooped down on the hobbits and from across The Water, from outside the Green Dragon Inn. Yes, I have photos of most if not all of the hobbit holes, and Dragon Inn and the Mill and double arched bridge. Each hobbit hole has its own special design for the plants and front garden. We spent time outside of Sam Gamgee’s hole and I tried to get that one from multiple angles. Most of the hobbit doors are set at a 60% of life size. There was at least one door that was real sized so all but Gandalf would look appropriate when they came near the door.
Now this blog cannot handle me putting all the photos of the whole area in it, so – if you ever get the chance – GO!! As much as I lived in Southern California and saw how they make the films around work and my home, and have seen Universal Studios a number of times, this felt more real than any Hollywood set I had seen before. While you cannot go into the hobbit holes, The Green Dragon Inn is a full sized. Here is one of the fireplaces inside – everything is round – like hobbit holes.
We were served a choice of light or dark ale, hard cider, or ginger beer and second breakfast treats at the Green Dragon Inn.
So over hill and dale – I would travel to spend time here.
” Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It’ll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they’ll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields… and eating the first of the strawberries with cream.” – Sam Gamgee from Return of the King.