Sarehole Mill has launched a crowdfunding appeal to restore its watermill.
The Mill was recently awarded funding from The H B Allen Charitable Trust to restore the 18th century Bakehouse to full working order. Last year, however, the watermill was damaged by flooding and the Mill is now appealing to the public to help make the wheel operational again. This will enable it to produce the stoneground flour necessary to bake bread on site and bring Sarehole Mill back to life for local people and visitors.
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. (Letter 303, 6 May 1968)
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 178, 12 December 1955)