4 June 2021

Houses of the Hobbit Diaspora

If you think that Hobbits are fictional, do not be fooled a second longer.  Middle-earth once existed, as did all of its various species.  Yet the hobbits found themselves obliged to leave their original home of The Shire. Rescued by the ancestors of a mild-mannered English writer, they have spread across the world.  A spell cast by the Gandalf the White means that the sons of men cannot see them but if you look close enough, there is evidence to be found.  A hobbit has to live somewhere, after all.  Here are just some of the houses of the Hobbit diaspora.

The first evidence of hobbits goes back hundreds of years.  Sites in Scotland and Finland, to name but two, have shown that hobbits have been living among us for longer than anyone imagined.  In exchange for our hospitality, the Hobbits have sworn to help us thrive.  While you might argue that, globally, they cannot be doing too good a job of that, there are few hobbits to many millions of humans - so the scale of their assistance is not huge.
While many of the houses show the care and attention one would expect from such a fastidious race, others look distinctly makeshift - for reasons which will become apparent later.

Image Credit Flickr User Grouper
Image Credit Becky Chambers
Hobbits are especially well equipped to help with certain industries – they follow their hearts and their stomachs.  It is little surprise then that places like Hoptown in California, have small but thriving hobbit communities.  Yet they can sometimes overdo things and occasionally the amount of wine forecast to be produced is far greater than what actually makes it to market.  A hobbit can, after all, be something of a party animal.

Image Credit Flickr User Kyle Pearce
Image Credit Flickr User Rick George
Their dwellings are more often than not very neat and tidy.  The recorder of their early history states that although they often live in holes in the ground these are not ordinary holes.  The emphasis is on comfort and homely décor.  Although most hobbits prefer to live in the countryside a sizable minority have adapted to suburban life and revel in surrounding themselves with the trappings of a bourgeois lifestyle, even abandoning the hole concept altogether. Those who chose to live in this ostentatious manner are often mocked by their more rustic cousins and referred to as variously as hoburbanites or suburbobits.

Image Credit Flickr User xoxoryan
Image Credit Flickr User Bill Bereza
Although it is not considered altogether wise to build villages some of the naturally more gregarious elements of the hobbit diaspora (notably the Gamgee clan) have been unable to resist the temptation.  Although this carries the risk of exposure and the possibility of the dreaded free-range fate (see below), this tenacious branch of the hobbit dispersion has proven that it is possible to create communities without detection.

Image Credit Flickr User Bob Larrick
The often inclement weather of their new home has forced most hobbits to abandon some aspects of their architecture.  However, some traditionalists persevere with a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green.  Even so, the shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle is often missing..
Image Credit Flickr User Spyrokeet
Image Credit Flickr User William Bereza
Image Credit Flickr User Gustavo Marin
Some hobbits, particularly the Stoorish variety, are drawn to the sea where they harvest fish and live lives of quiet contentment.  Their ancient and perpetual ban on ringed and other precious jewelry persists to this day, much to the bemusement of other hobbit divisions.

Image Credit Flickr User Rob Lee
Image Credit Flickr User Pat Pilon
The vast majority of hobbits have engaged with the food and wine industries - following their natural inclinations.  However, a number of hobbits have excelled in other areas of commerce.  These centers of trade are particularly useful for young hobbits who have adopted and made their own a human youngling tradition - something they call the Fellowship Walkabout.

Image Credit Flickr User Coke Brown Jr
Many hobbit families put their hand to farming, keeping their long cherished traditions.  They eschew modern day creature comforts such as electricity and motor vehicles in favor of the methods used by their hobbit forefathers.

Image Credit Flickr User panavatar
Hobbits are very particular about being law abiding citizens.  Any disputes are dealt with promptly by the Hobbit Parliament. 

Image Credit Flickr User Fabrizio Marcon
Image Credit Flickr User Sumyadeep Paul
Yet you cannot simply walk in to another realm and expect everything to be hunky dory.  Some supernatural beings of this world are, despite the spell cast by Gandalf, able to see the hobbits. For some hobbits, their new world was one full of peril.  For some a walk out of their door became a dangerous business.

Image Credit Flickr User Steve Lepolo
The Lestrange family of England set up a number of intensive hobbit farms, hoping to muscle in on the house-elf market with a new product.  Despite protests and legislation (forcing the farms to become free range) this unholy practice continues in Europe to this day. 

Image Credit Flickr User Juha Perovuo
Image Credit Flickr User Agatha and Andrew
Such has been the persecution of hobbits that many of their dwelling places are quickly built, without the usual care and attention, and even more hurriedly evacuated when their inhabitants find themselves in extreme peril. No wonder so many hobbits upped sticks and left for the New World of their new world.  All’s well that ends better. 

Image Credit Flickr User Hatmandu
Image Credit Flickr User True British Metal
We cannot share photographs of the hobbit farms here with you - they are too shocking.  We can, however, show you the aftermath of a Lestrange raid on a hobbit home.  This once beautiful residence of members of the Brandybuck family has been reduced to a sad wreck, the Brandybucks carted away to who knows what fate at the hands of the Lestranges.

Image Credit Flickr User True British Metal
Image Credit Flickr User True British Metal
The homely and warm interior has been vandalized almost beyond repair. Is it any wonder that hobbits chose to lead a life of secrecy, invisible to the eyes of most of their unwitting hosts?

Image Credit Flickr User Ellenm1
Image Credit Flickr User Kara Brugman
Yet there is, of course, a brighter side to hobbit life here in our world. As human society progressed over the years, so did that of the hobbit – along with their architecture.  Although hobbits are not naturally keen to embrace technology they do so where it is discreet and does not interfere with their lifestyle.

Image Credit Flickr User simplerich
Image Credit Flickr User Dominic Alves
Image Credit Flickr User Jennifer Turek
Image Credit Flickr User Skip the Filler
Moreover, hobbits have happily experimented with a number of architectural forms, from baroque to brutalist. They have welcomed eco-friendly design and solar technology: in fact in hobbit circles, some insist that hobbit culture has influenced that of humanity and not the other way around.

Image Credit Flickr User  Badly Drawn Dad
So, next time you pass a hole in the ground, think twice.  You may have stumbled upon one of the houses of the hobbit diaspora!

First Image Credit Flickr User Susan Renee