View Full Version : Hobbit Architecture

03-18-2001, 02:38 AM
<font face="Verdana"><table><TR><TD><FONT SIZE="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Shade of Carn Dûm
Posts: 292</TD><TD></TD></TR></TABLE>
Earlier today I thought to myself: &quot;wouldn't it be cool to make a scale model hobbit hole?&quot; which lead me to trying to find information about hobbit architecture.

In the opening chapter to The Hobbit, we read:
<blockquote>Quote:<hr> It [Bag End] had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube shaped like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs, and lots of pegs for hats and coats - the hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill - The Hill, as all the people for many miles around called it - and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then on another. No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed, on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden, and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river.<hr></blockquote>
Question: does this imply that Bilbo had at least two bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars etc, or that sentence referring to hobbits in general?

Based on Tolkien's picture of The Hill (http://barrowdowns.com/Pictures.asp?ImageFile=hill1&amp;ArtistIdentifier=tolk ien&amp;Artist=J.R.R.%20Tolkien&amp;Title=The%20Hill:%20Ho bbiton-across-the%20Water&amp;Data=54here</a>, or p 105(line drawing)/p 106 (water colour) of J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist &amp; Illustrator, possibly in your copy of The Hobbit (not in mine)) we see there are 5 windows looking out. Would there have been more on the other side of the hill (&quot;The tunnel wound on and on&quot;) or would it be safe to say there were 5 rooms with windows? Which rooms would have windows? Bedrooms? Dining rooms? Kitchens?

The other 'major' picture of a hobbit hole is of course &quot;The Hall at Bag-End&quot; (http://barrowdowns.com/Pictures.asp?ImageFile=TOLK_bagend3&amp;ArtistIdentifi er=tolkien&amp;Artist=J.R.R.%20Tolkien&amp;Title=Bag%20End &amp;Data=132here</a> if you don't already have a copy). Based on that, I get the impression that a hobbit hole could look like:
(Okay, so that's a very rough sketch and looks more like a slightly squashed pumpkin than anything else, but never mind.)

Would hobbits have had that strange curve in the side rooms? Would they have done it completely differently? (That picture was just the impression I got - am I wrong?)

Finally, what rooms would a hobbit hole have, specifically, Bag End? The Hobbit mentions the ones listed above, but what about sitting rooms, studies and laundries? And what about bathroom fittings? Toilets? Is there any information anywhere?

Sorry for such a long post, I just have a lot of questions. <img src=smile.gif ALT=":)">


03-18-2001, 03:34 AM
1. windows: further is stated that only left hand (‘best’) rooms had windows, so you answer yourself in your own quoting. Though number of windows is not stated textually, but, so far as the sketch made by Tolkien himself shows 5 of them, it may be assumed that there were five indeed.

2. Other rooms (not only those listed by JRRT) are also expected to be found in hobbit holes (the description was made to make an impression how luxury was a hole possessed by bilbo, it was not a real estate agency's price list of a house for sale or rent :rolleyes:

3. No, not all the hobbit holes were similar to that one of Bilbo's, for it is said that Bungo, that was Bilbo's father, built the most luxurious hobbit-hole for her (and partly with her money) that was to be found either under The Hill or over The Hill or across The Water

Bagginses were richest family of the neighborhood. Poorer families lived in far more modest lodgings, and poorest had mere dug-outs with no windows at all.

4. Most of the hobbits lived in holes, but there were exceptions, for there were above ground buildings too (Crickhollow for one)

5. Lavatories (inside the building type, with sewers) have no textual evidence either, but existence of bathrooms is proved. There is A warm bath and late breakfast on the lawn afterwards quote, aslo there was a bathroom at Crickhollow, but it had no outflow, for it was overflooded by Pippin

‘Lawks!’ said Merry, looking in. The stone floor was swimming. ‘You ought to mop all that up before you get anything to eat. Peregrin,’ he said. ‘Hurry up, or we shan’t wait for you.’

therefore existence of toilets inside the holes is doubtful, but Crickhollow was an ordinary house in the country, and such a luxury lodging as Bag-End was, may have had a sewer pipe and a toilet inside.

03-18-2001, 09:57 AM
<font face="Verdana"><table><TR><TD><FONT SIZE="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Pile o' Bones
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Re: Hobbit Architecture

I've always wondered where, on a &quot;perfectly round door&quot; the hinges would go...


03-18-2001, 10:35 AM
<font face="Verdana"><table><TR><TD><FONT SIZE="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Pile o' Bones
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Re: Hobbit Architecture

and if the doorknob is in the center of the door, it would be mighty hard to open it. That is something I always pondered, they weren't very efficiant.


03-18-2001, 02:05 PM
<font face="Verdana"><table><TR><TD><FONT SIZE="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Wight
Posts: 171</TD><TD></TD></TR></TABLE>

It might be like the doors in Europe (and maybe other places, I dunno), where there is a doorknob in the middle, but the lock is near the side. You turn the key to unlock the door with one hand, then push or pull the door open with the other.

I've always wondered about ceiling heights, myself. Did Gandalf have to walk around in a crouch to keep from banging his head whenever he visited?


03-18-2001, 02:20 PM
<font face="Verdana"><table><TR><TD><FONT SIZE="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Wight
Posts: 191</TD><TD><img src=http://home.att.net/~robertwgardner/lotrmap.gif WIDTH=60 HEIGHT=60></TD></TR></TABLE>
Re: Hobbit Architecture

Ron, since I was never able to download the hobbithole.jpg you kindly downsized for me, could you post that here?

If can wait on a longer download, check this out: http://www.geocities.com/robertwgardner2000/hobbithole.html Do It Yourself Hobbit Hole!</a>

Toiletry would have consisted of a privy, that is to say, an outhouse.

I think Middle-earth technology would have encompassed chamberpots, too. (Which were emptied into privies...)

Today, we have the option of septic tanks and sewer systems. Gondor/Numenor may have had this sort of running water technology. (There is some evidence that the Romans may have...)

Flush toilets were not likely, I think, though certainly possible.

Hobbits lived &quot;closer to nature.&quot; Those today who make the attempt have created &quot;composting toilets.&quot;

Essentially, equal amounts of sawdust and manure can result in efficient decomposition. This composted manure is not used in the vegetable garden, and particularly not for root crops. Rather, it is used for flowering and fruiting plants.

We also use &quot;blackwater&quot; and &quot;graywater&quot; treatments. The dish, bath, laundry water is considered &quot;gray&quot; and can be used for watering anything. The &quot;blackwater&quot; is run off into a &quot;wetland&quot; planted especially for the purpose so that nature itself cleans the refuse.

One could postulate any combination of these sorts of natural systems in use in the Shire.

As for construction, you can read some details I have for this sort of thinking in http://www.barrowdowns.com/fanfichobbits00.aspThe Hobbits</a>. I basically postulate that the hobbitry would seek boughs, limbs, and trunks of particular shapes for their construction. After a time, entire orchards might have been grown and shaped over time to create various support structures.

Earthsheltered housing can be extremely affordable and comfortable. Like a cave, such dwellings tend to remain at the average temperature of the local climate. Thus, cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

Flooring, even today in some places, is a matter of hardpacking a mixture of soil and beeswax, or linseed oil. Similar mixtures, or even fired clay tiles overlaying a wooden support arches and wooden shoring, would keep rainwater from seeping through the roof. Pitch could also be used for this purpose.

If our water table weren't so high (there used to be a swamp here), I would build a little hobbit hole in the backyard to demonstrate! If I move out into the country (a dream of mine), I will. Until then, enjoy the links, and let's see what else we can come up with!

<center><font face=verdana size=1> http://www.barrowdowns.comBarrow-Downs</a>~http://www.geocities.com/robertwgardner2000Bare Bones</a>~http://www.robertwgardner2000/gilthalion.htmlGrand Adventures</a>~http://www.barrowdowns.com/fanfichobbits.aspThe Hobbits</a>~http://www.tolkientrail.comTolkien Trail</a> </center></p>

03-18-2001, 11:10 PM
<font face="Verdana"><table><TR><TD><FONT SIZE="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Animated Skeleton
Posts: 45</TD><TD></TD></TR></TABLE>
Re: Hobbit Architecture

There's a drawing of Bag End near the end of The Hobbit, p.273 in my trade paperback volume. It shows perhaps 20 feet of the entrance to Bilbo's home. It doesn't show enough of the entrance hall to see any doors leading off to either side. It does show the round door, and it appears that it hangs from a single hinge.


03-18-2001, 11:33 PM
<font face="Verdana"><table><TR><TD><FONT SIZE="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Hidden Spirit
Posts: 696</TD><TD></TD></TR></TABLE>
Re: Hobbit Architecture

Would you happen to be talking about http://www.barrowdowns.com/images/ReaderArt/FatEnd.jpgthis one</a>?

What's a burrahobbit got to do with my pocket, anyways?</p>

03-19-2001, 02:14 AM
<font face="Verdana"><table><TR><TD><FONT SIZE="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Shade of Carn Dûm
Posts: 293</TD><TD></TD></TR></TABLE>
Re: Hobbit Architecture (Specifically Bag End)

It seems the door did have a keyhole in the side. To quote J R R Tolkien, artist and illustrator:
<blockquote>Quote:<hr> Tolkien himself was not happy with it [ The Hall at Bag End]: he confessed to Allen &amp; Unwin that he had misguidedly put a shadow in was behind the door, which in the line-engraving became all black and obscured a key in the lock.<hr></blockquote>
Indeed, if you look carefully at the picture in that book (p 146) you can just make out what could be a key in the lock, and it appears to be near the edge of the door. However, there doesn't seem to be a keyhole anywhere. (Although, the most obvious fault with that picture is the fact that, judging from the perspective, Bilbo would have to stand on a chair to open the door.)

As for the five rooms with windows:
Based on the text in The Hobbit, if 5 rooms have windows, there couldn't be more than 6 without (alternating without-with-without etc), which would make 11 rooms in total. But there must certainly be more than 11 rooms in a hobbit hole as luxurious as Bag End - even just 2 bedrooms, 1 cellar, 1 kitchen, 3 pantries (&quot;many&quot; would imply more, though, I think), 3 wardrobes (ditto), 1 bathroom and a study would be 12, and that's not counting sitting rooms and extra kitchens/bathrooms etc. How does this work?

If we assume no running water, a bath could be made by boiling water over a fire and then pouring into a tub. (This works better if you have a servant to pour the water for you, obviously.)

Outhouses seem to be a reasonable assumption - though I can't see any on The Hill: Hobbiton-across-the-water, they could always be on the other side of the hill.


Susan Delgado
10-14-2002, 10:48 PM
Ooh, this is cool! Architecture is a minor hobby of mine and a few months ago I designed the floor plan of what I thought a Hobbit house would be like.
Well, it's not really for Hobbits; I designed it for myself (based on what I imagine a Hobbit would like), hence the studio (I'm a sculptor), the library (perfect for bibliophiles), and the office (everybody needs an office). These rooms can, of course, be used for other things smilies/smile.gif
Anyway, here it is.


10-15-2002, 12:00 AM
I wander what a "wetroom" is for?

Susan Delgado
10-15-2002, 12:04 AM
I'm a clay sculptor. A wetroom is a place for storing partially finished pieces so they don't dry out and become unworkable.