The Hobbit House on the Isle of Man
Experience a real Hobbit hole at the Children’s Centre Community Farm
Everyone loves hobbits. Ask anyone who’s a fan of the Lord of the Rings to choose their favourite character and nine times out of ten it will be Samwise Gamgee. He’s loyal and innocent and determined and without him Frodo couldn’t have saved Middle Earth. He represents the Shire with all it’s comfort, safety, and stability and these same attributes make Hobbit Holes special.
As Tolkien described them, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”
A comforting space for children
So it comes as no surprise that an organisation that helps troubled, disabled, and disadvantaged children would build one. Since it’s been completed, the Hobbit House has become a comforting space for kids and a place to chill out and socialise.
Because it’s underground, the small wooden room with natural light is also quiet. This is especially appreciated by those with autism and downs syndrome or just kids who need a quiet moment to calm down.
Inspiration for the project
Nigel Revill, Farm Project Officer for the Children’s Centre Community Farm, says the idea for the project came as a whimsical inspiration. They were granted a field that they’ve been transforming into a conservation area and on one side was a bank. The perfect place for a hobbit house.
Since it’s been built it’s used regularly by kids visiting the farm and even whole classes from local schools go to see it. It delights everyone who sees it, child and adult alike.
The purpose of the Hobbit House is to empower kids
Many of the children who come to the farm need help. Help with building self-esteem, to make friends, and to find themselves. Nigel believes that reconnecting kids with nature can help them to build strong connections with not only the land but to each other.
Up to 12 adults can fit inside at a time and entire classes squeeze in. The experience of walking inside is a deliberate act says Lee Brooks, the Farm Team Leader. By steping through the hobbit hole you’re entering a special space.
Even those less-abled can visit
Even though most have to step over the door to go in, those in wheelchairs can get inside too. There’s a wooden boardwalk that leads up to the house and the round door is set inside another door that swings open.
Nigel tells of a boy who recently visited in his wheelchair. Normally he wouldn’t be able to go to the end of school year trip with his friends because of access. Nigel brought him to the Hobbit House this year instead. He was absolutely delighted!
Reconnection with nature and with each other
There’s only a wood-stove and a string of LED lights in the Hobbit House and the cut-off time from technology is important in this process. Telling stories, laughing, and just looking out at the stars is what results in turning off mobile phones.
Once in silence, the fire crackling, a child spontaneously started reciting a poem that the class had written together. All the kids joined in and Nigel says it was one of those moments that you feel a chill running up your spine.
The entire construction only cost £600
Aside from the positive and fun influence it has on everyone who visits, the Hobbit House is interesting because of how it was built.
It was constructed by hand and with mainly salvaged and recycled materials. The only cost that went into it was approximately £600 for timber to create the log ceiling and labor was free. Students from St Ninians High School helped with the project as well as volunteers from corporate sponsors.
Recycled and Salvaged Materials
Aside from the timber, everything else used to create the space came free. The wood stove was welded out of an old compressor, the roof was layered with chain link fence and chicken wire dug out of a skip, and the chimney top is an old washing machine drum. The drum mostly stops kids from dropping stones down the chimney Nigel told us with a smile. Without it you’d open up the stove and find a pile of rocks inside every time.
Isle of Architecture
The visit to the Hobbit House comes as part of the Isle of Architecture project, a year long programme bringing awareness of the Island’s architecture. I’m interested in sustainable and human-centric architecture on the Isle of Man and will continue to feature green builds throughout the coming year.
If you’d like to learn more about the Hobbit House, you can get in touch with the team at the Childrens Centre Community Farm here. They’re not ordinarily open to the public but do have open days throughout the year and do hire out for children’s parties. The Hobbit House is at their farm just outside Douglas on the way to Port Soderick.