Living In Middle Earth

December 2001 marked the launch of the long awaited first film in the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy – ‘The Fellowship of The Ring’.

As a number of Streets in South Woodham Ferrers are named from the people and places of Tolkiens Middle earth, I thought it might be interesting to trace the origins of those names.

Street Signs

The Middle Earth ‘estate’ is interestingly based around two feeder roads, Gandalfs Ride and Celeborn Street, although legend has it that Celeborn Street was originally to have been called Gollums Reach. This would have made sense, as the two main influences of The Lord of The Rings are Gandalf’s ride to muster the armies for the War of the Ring, and Gollum’s reach for the One Ring.

Anyone who has read the trilogy – or seen the films – will know the final result of Gollum’s reach, and it is little wonder that the street was renamed.

That said, had Celeborn Street been renamed Celeborn Crescent then perhaps more people would pronounce the word ‘Celeborn’ correctly (with a ‘hard’ C as JRRT intended).

So, to the streets themselves:

Arwen Grove – Arwen was an Elven princess, the daughter of Elrond. She married Aragorn following the War of the Ring. Her father insisted that she could not marry Aragorn until he was King of both Arnor and Gondor. In the Peter Jackson films she was played by Liv Tyler.

Bree Hill – Bree was the main village of Breeland, at the crossroads of The Great East Road and the North Road, most famous for its inn, ‘The Prancing Pony’, a place where travellers met to rest and catch up with news and gossip.

Buckland Gate – Buckland was one of the regions of the Hobbits home in The Shire, it was protected from the nearby Old Forest by the “High Hay”, a tall hedge which formed the eastern border of Buckland. The Buckland Gate also known as ‘the Hay Gate’ was  located “where the Hedge runs down to the river-bank, just this side of the Bridge,” (over the River Baranduin or Brandywine) opening onto the East Road from the Shire to Bree.

Bucklebury Heath – The hobbits were nearly ambushed by the ringwraiths at Bucklebury Ferry on their departure from the Shire.

Butterbur Chase – Barliman Butterbur was the landlord of The Prancing Pony – an inn in the village of Bree.
Tolkien describes The Prancing Pony thus: “Even from the outside the inn looked a pleasant house to familiar eyes. It had a front on the Road, and two wings running back on land partly cut out of the lower slopes of the hill, so that at the rear the second-floor windows were level with the ground. There was a wide arch leading to a courtyard between the two wings, and on the left under the arch there was a large doorway reaches by a few broad steps. … Above the arch there was a lamp, and beneath it swung a large signboard: a fat white pony reared up on its hind legs. Over the door was painted in white letters: THE PRANCING PONY by BARLIMAN BUTTERBUR.”

Bywater Road – Bywater was a village in The Shire, the homeland of the Hobbits. It was renowned for its village pub – The Green Dragon – and also the site of the final battle of the War of the Ring, where the evil wizard Saruman was finally defeated.

Celeborn Street – Celeborn (pronounced Keleborn) was the Elven King of Lothlorien, married to the fair Lady Galadriel. In the Peter Jackson film he was played by the New Zealand actor Marton Csokas.

Chetwood – the Chetwood Centre, previously the Chetwood Primary School (from 1986 until it was closed in 2009) is named from a broad woodland to the north and east of Bree Hill.

Elronds Rest – Elrond was a half-elven prince, married to Celebrian, the daughter of Celeborn and Galadriel. Elrond’s home at Rivendell was known as ‘The Last Homely House East of the Sea’ and was the venue for the council which led to the formation of the Fellowship of the Ring.
Elrond was one of the wearers of the three Elven rings of Power, and was played in the Peter Jackson films by Hugo Weaving.

Galadriel Spring – The Lady Galadriel was the Elven queen of Lothlorien. Tall, blonde and beautiful, she was the wearer of one of the three Elven rings of Power. In the Peter Jackson films, Lady Galadriel was played by Cate Blanchett.

Gandalfs Ride – Gandalf was one of the last and greatest of the wizards of Middle Earth, also known as Mithrandir, elvish for grey pilgrim. He was a friend to the hobbits, a master of fireworks and instrumental in gathering the armies for the War of the Ring. Gandalf was the wearer of the third of the Elven rings of Power. In the Peter Jackson films, Gandalf was played by Sir Ian McEllen.

Gimli Watch – Gimli was a dwarf and a member of the Fellowship of the Ring, in the Peter Jackson films he was played by John Rhys Davies. He was the son of Gloin who was one of the dwarves who accompanied Bilbo Baggins on the adventures described in “The Hobbit”. Gloin was played in ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy of films by Peter Hambleton.

Gladden Fields – were the marshlands of the Gladden river, many years before the events of The Lord of The Rings, a great battle took place causing the One Ring to become lost, until eventually found by Smeagol, who degenerated into Gollum.

Goldberry Mead – Goldberry was the daughter of the River-woman of the Withywindle, she was married to Tom Bombadil, who rescued the Hobbits when they encountered Old Man Willow.
Neither Goldberry nor Tom Bombadil featured in the Peter Jackson films.

Great Smials – The ancestral home of the Took of hobbits, in the village of Tuckborough in the Westfarthing of The Shire. On the night before the Battle of Bywater, Peregrin Took rode to the Great Smials to raise an army of Tooks for the fight.

Hobbiton Hill – Hobbiton was the most famous village in The Shire, the home of the Hobbits. Bag End – the home of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins was situated on Hobbiton Hill.

Lorien Gardens – Lorien, in ancient times before the events described in The Lord of The Rings, was a vast, beautiful garden, which in turn gave its name to Lothlorien, where the Elves lived, under their rulers the Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel. Galadriel planted the seeds of the mallorn trees, by the power of the Galadriel’s Elven Ring the trees did not die.

Meriadoc Drive – Meriadoc Brandybuck, also known as Merry was one of the hobbits who accompanied Frodo Baggins on their quest as a member of The Fellowhip of the Ring. After the War of the Ring he became Master of Buckland. Merry was played, in the Peter Jackson films, by Dominic Monaghan.

Rivendell Vale – Rivendell was a refuge built in the mountains by the elves. It was the site of the House of Elrond, where the Council of Elrond – which formed The Fellowship of the Ring – was held, and where Bilbo Baggins resided for many years after leaving The Shire.

Rohan Court – the kingdom of Rohan (meaning Horse Land) was homeland of the Rohirrim, skilled horsemen who played a key role in the battles of the war of the Ring.

Shirebourn Vale – the Shirebourn was a lesser river of the Shire’s Eastfarthing. Its source was in the uplands of the Green Hill Country, from where it flowed south and then southeast, where it matched the boundary with the Southfarthing. The Shirebourn flowed into the Brandywine beneath Deephallow

The Withywindle – was a small river which flowed through the Old Forest, to the east of the Shire.

Thorins Gate – Thorin is a name shared by several kings of the dwarves. Thorin Oakenshield was killed in ‘The Hobbit’ which preceded the events of The Lord of The Rings. In the Peter Jackson ‘Hobbit’ trilogy, Thorin Oakenshield was played by Richard Armitage.

Tighfield Walk Tighfield was a village in the Westfarthing of the Shire.

Took Drive – Peregrine Took, also known as Pippin, was a hobbit, and a companion of Frodo Baggins in the Fellowship of the Ring. Following the War of the Ring he became ruler of the Shire. He was played by Billy Boyd in the Peter Jackson films. 

Treebeard Copse – Treebeard was an Ent, or Tree Shepherd, who lived in the old forest of Fangorn. He and his fellow ents destroyed Saruman’s fortress at Isengard. In the Peter Jackson films his CGI character was voiced by John Rhys Davies.

Westmarch – Like Buckland, Westmarch was part of The Shire, the historic home of The Hobbits.

White Tree Court – The White Tree was ancient, even in the times described in the Lord of the Rings, the line of saplings could be traced back to pre-history and was a symbol of the continuing line of the men of Gondor.
In Peter Jackson’s film we momentarily see a single blossom of “hope” on the previously dead tree during the Siege of Gondor and the imminent arrival of Aragorn on the Black Ships. At the time of the crowning of Aragorn the previously dead tree has returned to life and is in full blossom.

About the author:
Bob Massey first read Lord of the Rings in 1973 and claims to pack it in his baggage whenever he goes away on holiday. He has lived in South Woodham Ferrers since 1986 and is a member of South Woodham Ferrers Town Council, Chelmsford City Council and Essex County Council.