Tolkien inspiration at The Vyne


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Latest update 25.04.2013 12:50

An ancient gold ring, thought by many to be the ring that inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to write The Hobbit, has been the creative force behind two unique family projects at The Vyne.

For years, this Roman ring, inscribed in Latin and inset with an image of Venus, lay almost forgotten in a corner of a room at The Vyne. Now, it has been brought into the light. A new exhibition room, created in partnership with the Tolkien Society, sees the ring properly displayed for the first time and tells its remarkable story. Set within a large contemporary display unit, visitors can closely study the ring as it revolves, and learn more about the curse laid on the thief who stole it, and why Tolkien himself may have seen it.

A Middle-Earth experience for kids

The ring has influenced The Vyne’s gardens too. A long abandoned area of walled garden has been transformed into the Hidden Realm – an adventure play area whose design is based on the fantasy landscapes of Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

The first of its kind in the country, the Hidden Realm has elements of jungle, mountain and stream cleverly intertwined into its many features. At its centre is a network of turf-covered tunnels installed with sound tubes to allow children to talk to each other. An ‘Iron Age’ wooden fort and bridge, wide slide, trickling stream and large limestone-bordered sandpit surround the tunnels. A giant warrior’s helmet lies half submerged in the ground, as if abandoned after battle.

A place to run, hide, slide and climb

Designed to stimulate children’s imaginations within a naturalistic environment, the site provides an exciting setting where kids can run, scramble, crawl and slide within the safe confines of a walled garden. Thickets of bamboo and ferns create jungle-like hiding places and a seated canopied area provides a restful viewpoint across the fantasy landscape, with refreshments close by.

Discover more adventures at The Vyne