Real Places in Birmingham that Inspired Tolkien

J.R.R Tolkien was actually born in South Africa in 1892. However, when his father died during their visit of his grandmother, he had to settle in a small village called Sarehole in Birmingham at the age of three. So, he spent his childhoold, went to school, and got married in Birmingham. As a result, several places widely influenced his works. Here are the real places in Birmingham that inspired Tolkien.

The Chamberlain Tower as the Eye of Sauron

The Chamberlain Tower is an important structure in the University of Birmingham. The sight occurs when the clock on the tower is illuminated at night probably gave Tolkien the idea for the Eye of Sauron.

The Chamberlain Tower in the University of Birmingham.
The Eye of Sauron

Birmingham Vs Mordor

Tolkien’s description of Mordor was based of a region in Birmingham called the Black Country because of its heavily polluted air due to the Industrial Revolution. It is told that the air was so thick that difficulty in breathing might have caused the Brummie accent (the accent used in Peaky Blinders).

The Black Country, Birmingham, in 1870s
Griffiths, Samuel, editor of “The London Iron Trade Exchange” / WikiCommons
Mordor in the Lord of the Rings

Moseley Bog

The Old Forest where Tom Bombadil comes across Frodo in the Fellowship of the Ring is based on the Moseley Bog. It is a place where Tolkien played and explored as a child.

Moseley Bog, Birmingham
The Old Forest

Sarehole Mill Vs the Houses in the Shire

Sarehole Mill was Tolkien’s favourite place to play as a child, and it is said to be used as a model for the Shire in the Hobbit.

Sarehole House, Birmingham
The Shire in the Hobbit

The Shire Country Park and the Shire in the Hobbit

The Shire Country Park is another place where young Tolkien played and explored. Later, it was named in 2005 to reflect its ties with Tolkien.

The Shire Country House
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The Shire in the Hobbit

The Oratory in the Lord of the Rings

The Oratory of Philip Neri Church in Hagley Road was in the same street as the church Tolkien’s family attended. According to the fiction, the Oratory is the place where the true king lives until his return.

The Oratory

Perrot’s Folly and the Edgbaston Waterworks Towers as the Two Towers of Gondor

Perrot’s Fooly and the Edgbaston Waterworks are the two landmarks of Edgbaston, where Tolkien lived for a while. Perrot’s Folly was one of the first weather recording stations in England. This Gothic tower is said to inspire the Minas Morgul, one of the two towers.

Perrot's Folly
Minas Morgul

As for the Edgbaston Waterworks, it is a Victorian chimney tower which inspired the Minas Tirith.

Edgbaston Waterworks
Minas Tiritf İn the Lord og the Rings by Tolkien

The University of Birmingham as Isengard

During the First World War, the University of Birmingham was used as a hospital, and Tolkien spent six weeks there after getting discharged from the army due to trench fever. So, it is not surprising that the traumatic side of the war influenced the dark side of his fictions. Accordingly, the structure of Isengard was inspired by the University of Birmingham.

The University of Birmingham
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