J.R.R. Tolkien is my favorite author. He is responsible for igniting my love of reading. If you aren’t familiar with him, he wrote most famously The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He taught at Oxford University in England but loved to visit The Cotswolds. The Cotswolds are about 30 miles from Oxford and are quaint little villages with shops, restaurant, and hotels. There is an occasional church and some ordinary businesses you would expect to find in a little town. The most charming of the little Cotswold towns was Stow-on-the-Wold.
Our visit to Stow-on-the-Wold was truly magical and was a highlight of our first overseas voyage. We visited St. Edward’s Church (There has been over 1,000 years of continual Christian worship at St. Edwards church) which was the inspiration for Tolkien’s gates to the Mines of Moria. If you watched the movies you will see this when they were trying to open the door into the mines but found Elvish writing above the door and found it to be impenetrable. Finally they figured out how to enter and the movie continued. If you watch this scene and then go to the back of St. Edward’s Church you will see the obvious similarity. It was said that Tolkien would walk through the streets of Stow-on-the-Wold and visit the church and there received the inspiration for the Mines.
I found it almost surreal as I looked up at the church and realized how this inspired Tolkien and how he had walked where I was walking. The beauty of the church is hard to describe and pictures don’t do it justice. At the back of the church where Tolkien received the inspiration for the Mines there are two trees that they actually built the church around so they are a part of the church itself! This one visit will always be a treasured memory from our trip; getting to walk where one of my literary heroes walked.