The most famous hobbit hole in Middle Earth is Bag End, the home of Bilbo Baggins and his nephew Frodo. It sits at the top of the hill, and one gets the sense that Hobbiton is figuratively and literally built around Bag End.
Keep in mind that only the exterior shots of Hobbiton were filmed in Matamata. The interior scenes were filmed in studios in Wellington. This means that all of the hobbit holes are empty. Bag End has a semblance of decor in the entryway because that would have been seen as Bilbo or Frodo exits the building. Otherwise, it was unnecessary to decorate the hobbit-hole interiors in Matamata.
However, the lack of decorated interiors did not stop the film crews from their incredible attention to detail on the exteriors. The tree that grows out of Bag End’s roof is a good example. For the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the tree was reconstructed from another tree the crew brought onsite to Matamata from another location and installed into the hobbit hole’s roof to meet the description in the books. However, matching the original trilogy’s tree wouldn’t work since as I mentioned in my first Hobbiton post, the events that take place in The Hobbit are 60+ years before the events in The Lord of the Rings. This means the tree growing out of the top of Bag End would need to be aged down. The crew painstakingly removed or added the appropriate-aged leaves to make the tree look younger than the original image. This is just one example of the borderline-insane lengths to which the crew went to make this place amazing. Jackson felt strongly that no matter how few seconds a scene might appear onscreen, the details matter and should be camera-ready at all times.
Bag End also sports the famous “No Admittance Except on Party Business” sign from The Fellowship of the Ring, a clear homage to fans wishing to have their photo taken with their first memory of Hobbiton. As you remember, at the start of the Lord of the Rings Bilbo turns 111 years old, having received unnatural long life from his role as Ringbearer. Plot movement aside, hobbits like to party, and Bilbo is no exception. So he throws a big party for himself in the Party Field for which Gandalf provides the fireworks. You can go play yourself in the Party Field today – there are games and even a May Pole -before heading to Sam’s house and on a little hike through the Shire. Check back tomorrow for Tolkien’s own thoughts about why gardeners are the best.
Title quote: J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit