The world's only full replica 'Hobbit hole' in Suffolk wins glamping award
PUBLISHED: 14:29 07 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:58 07 January 2020
The site's forest was also proved inspiration for J M Barrie while he was writing Peter Pan.
A trio of campsites in Suffolk have been honoured in the 2019 Campsites.co.uk awards this week.
Kings Forest Caravan Park, close to Bury St Edmunds, took the prize for Best Campsites for Couples in the East of England 2019.
Best Family Campsite in the East of England went to Cakes and Ale Holiday Park near Leiston.
And, most idiosyncratic of them all, West Stow Pods took home Best Glamping Site in the East of England for its jaw-dropping recreation of a hobbit's paradise - Pod Hollow.
Priced from £150 per night (rising to £250 in high season, with a minimum two-night stay), Pod Hollow is the crowning jewel of the 1.5 acre glamping site owned by Jan and Edwina Lengyel, where there are also four megapods and two log cabins.
"This award is almost an acknowledgement of what we actually have here at West Stow Pods," says Jan. "The location is on the doorstep of all our natural heritage and we have lots of people who are wanting to come back time and time again, including one couple who've returned seven times. This award acknowledges we have something which is really special and which is good value for money."
The site is set amongst mature broad tree filled woodlands on the King's Forest estate, just a couple of hundred yards from the river Lark, leading to West Stow Anglo Saxon Village (which actually runs Middle Earth experiences from Pod Hollow). "We're only five miles from the centre of Bury St Edmunds," adds Jan, "but we could be in the middle of a national park miles away from anywhere. The only noise at night is the owls. Within a short radius are the woodlands, parkland, Lackford Lakes nature reserve…it's a fabulous location."
Taking six months to complete by a local carpenter, Pod Hollow is what Jan believes is the world's only habitable 'hobbit hole' - although they're not allowed to market it as such due to copyright with the Tolkien and other estates. It was painstakingly recreated in conjunction with two members of staff from West Stow Anglo Saxon Village, who are members of the Tolkien Society.
"They ensured," says Jan, "that it's 100% genuine internally and externally. If you go to New Zealand where there are 55 hobbit holes, and open any door, there's nothing behind but soil. What we have here is both true to the film, the book and the story."
Found in a south-facing setting in the trees, covered in hundreds of tonnes of topsoil, and wildflowers and grasses native to the Brecks, Pod Hollow has no 90 degree angles inside, and while faithfully recreating Tolkien's vision, has all the mod-cons too, across a large living and dining space, two double bedrooms, kitchen and separate bathroom with walk-in shower.
"It really is top-notch," says Jan proudly. "You could elope and live there for the rest of your life, it's fully functioning. And even better now, as we have added things like oak tree leaves painted on the walls, and subtle, authentic replica maps."
Interestingly, there is more than one literary point of reference for this site. "Pod Hollow is adjacent to trees which have bare roots, just like the film and just like the Tolkien setting. One tree in particular is locally known as the Peter Pan Tree because you can actually go underneath the tree, amongst the roots. J M Barrie visited the old school house here at West Stow and sketched that tree which is in the original Peter Pan book. And that gave him the idea to have the children go under a tree into Never Never Land. It lends itself to this world and hence we had the ideal site to have built Pod Hollow."