Middle-earth Festival comes to Sarehole Mill this weekend. The event – formerly taking place in May and known as Middle-earth Weekend – takes place at the historic location where J.R.R. Tolkien lived as a child.
Open between 11am to 5pm on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th September, the event includes costume pageants, readings from Tolkien’s works, Morris dancing, face painting, market with foods and local crafts (including jewellery, soaps, chocolate, artwork, bread and chainmail!). As if that wasn’t enough there will be living history around the Viking arena, with live re-enactments, for spectators to enjoy. Previous events have had around 10,000 attendees. The event is free to attend and the address is Sarehole Mill, Colebank Road, Hall Green, B13 0BD.
The Tolkien Society – who recently announced a new partnership with Sarehole Mill – will be in attendance in the Tolkien Tent as we have been supporting the event for many years. If you are coming along please do come over to our stall.
The area around Sarehole had a profound impact on a young Tolkien. The hobbits’ Shire of The Lord of the Rings was directly influenced by the local area, and Sandyman’s Old Mill was modelled on Sarehole Mill.
As for knowing Sarehole Mill, it dominated my childhood. I lived in a small cottage almost immediately beside it, and the old miller of my day and his son were characters of wonder and terror to a small child.
In the 1960s Tolkien made a donation to the Mill to fund its restoration; after years of dereliction it was finally opened to the public in 1969. Describing the Shire, and referring to Sarehole, Tolkien said:
[The Shire] is in fact more or less a Warwickshire village of about the period of the Diamond Jubilee – that is as far away as the Third Age from that depressing and perfectly characterless straggle of houses north of old Oxford, which has not even a postal existence.
 Letter 303 (dated 6 May 1968) in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
 Letter 178 (dated 12 December 1955) in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien