I live quite near Sarehole Mill in Moseley (or Hall Green – somewhere on the border!) so yesterday as it was sunny we decided to wander down there. It’s a nice walk there, through Joy’s Wood, which has amazing carvings scattered around, and with lots of blossom it really felt as though Spring is here. The mill itself is located in what was once the rural village of Sarehole, and is two hundred years old. It’s been set up for visitors to see what life in a working water mill was like, along with some details of JRR Tolkien’s life in the surrounding area. Tolkien lived in Sarehole between 1896 and 1900, and it seems likely that he was influenced by the countryside, while the mill features in Hobbiton in Lord of the Rings (and indeed based the miller in LOTR on the miller of Sarehole). It’s a surprisingly quiet and tranquil place now, but looking at the great wheels of the mill, I can’t help but think of the noise of the wheels described in The Mill on the Floss – ‘the rush of the water and the booming of the mill’ – now, most of the noise comes from visiting children and from the cafe.
In a few weeks the area surrounding Sarehole Mill will be transformed as the annual Middle Earth weekend takes place on May 15th and 16th, which is always fun (and particularly entertaining for Gandalf-spotting, etc – there are usually a fair few people in costume). There’s often events going on at the mill, and yesterday we enjoyed a falconry display.