Thursday 26 April 2018

Far from the Shire, a Hobbit house

An exterior view of the Hobbit House in Chester County, near Philadelphia (AP)
An exterior view of the Hobbit House in Chester County, near Philadelphia (AP)
Architect Peter Archer enters the Hobbit House, near Philadelphia (AP)

Worlds away from the Shire, a little stone cottage tucked into the US countryside would make Bilbo Baggins feel like he was back home with his Hobbit friends in Middle-earth.

Nestled in a part of Chester County in Pennsylvania, dotted with picturesque barns and rolling fields that are surprisingly close to Philadelphia, this Hobbit house belongs to a lifelong fan of JRR Tolkien.

The 600-square foot building was created as a quiet place for the owner to privately enjoy the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings memorabilia and rare books he has collected in 30 years of travel in the US and abroad. Features include a round door with a knob in the centre, just as Tolkien described in his book The Hobbit.

"We wanted a single structure, a relaxing place that was diminutive in scale, for the owner to come and hang out and just be in solitude with his collection," said architect Peter Archer, speaking on the owner's behalf.

Hundreds of houses inspired by Tolkien's books have been built in the US and abroad. But Archer said, "This isn't something that you can recreate on a suburban cul-de-sac; it was made for this specific location and it wouldn't work anywhere else."

Archer worked with a team of craftsmen to create the fantastical abode. They used stones taken from a long-collapsed section of an 18th-century low wall running through the centre of the 16-acre property. Built up against a stone retaining wall of the same vintage, the Hobbit house looks like an original feature of the property.

"We weren't going to do a Hollywood interpretation. We wanted it to be timeless," Archer said. "It was built in 2004 but looking at it, you could think it was from 1904, or 1604."

The 54-inch diameter Spanish cedar door - naturally with a knob right in the centre just as Tolkien described - opens with a single hand-forged iron hinge. Several craftsmen said they couldn't hang the 150lb (68kg) door on one hinge but a blacksmith "succeeded on the first try", Mr Archer said.

Press Association

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