Published: 13th January 2021
Legendary writer JRR Tolkien is widely known for creating the world of the Lord of the Rings, but what some don’t realise is that many of the settings of his fantastical universe were based on places right here in the West Midlands!
Take a look below and feel inspired by our local heritage.
The most famous of his inspirations, Sarehole Mill often holds events to commemorate the works of Tolkien. For a time, Tolkien lived across the road from the mill and would play in the surrounding green fields and woods, often being chased off by the miller’s son, whom they nicknamed the ‘White Ogre’. Back then the area was said to look very much like his ideas of The Shire, even causing a nearby park to be named The Shire Country Park. Today Sarehole Mill is part of Birmingham Museums Trust.
Just down the road from Perrot's Folly is Edgbaston Waterworks with another familiar-looking tower to see. The Grade II listed buildings here are something anyone can appreciate, whether you’re a Tolkien fan or not. The Tolkien brothers lived with their aunt in nearby Stirling Road and they are said to have inspired the Two Towers of Gondor.
The clock tower 'Old Joe' is one of the central figures at the University of Birmingham. It's official name is the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower and it can be seen for miles out from the universities Edgbaston campus. It is widely believed to be the inspiration for the black tower of Isengard from the Lord of the Rings trilogy with the tower’s brightly illuminated clockface thought to have provided him with the idea for the terrifying Eye of Sauron.
It’s said that the smoke-filled chasms of Mordor were inspired by the Black Country and the industrial work of the time. What better place to learn about the rich history of the industrial revolution within the West Midlands than from the exhibits and volunteers at the Black Country Museum? While the venue is currently closed for the winter shutdown you can still follow them on their social media. Did you know that the Black Country museum TikTok account made the UK top 100 accounts last year?
Much more picturesque than the name might let on, Moseley Bog is a blend of walking trails, wetlands, woods and more, perfect for a long walk in the fresh air. Enchanted forests were a big part of Lord of the Ring lore and Moseley Bog is said to have inspired the look and feel of many, although none of the trees have ever actually come to life!
While we are all in lockdown and staying at home more, why not take some more time to learn more about Tolkien and the inspiration he took from the Midlands? Visit Sarehole Mill's website to download the official Birmingham Tolkien trail guide.
Back to top