HASA Resources

Places in Middle-earth

Southfarthing, The

Type: Kingdoms, Realms, Lands

Region: Bree/The Shire

Location: The southernmost district of the Shire; known for the cultivation of pipe-weed and wine grapes; the entry point of the road from Sarn Ford.

Description: The Shire was divided into four quarters, the Farthings already referred to, North, South, East, and West; and these again each into a number of folklands, which still bore the names of some of the old leading families, although by the time of this history these names were no longer found only in their proper folklands. ... Outside the Farthings were the East and West Marches....

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Prologue, Of the Ordering of the Shire

Every one of the various parting gifts had labels, written out personally by Bilbo ... Old Rory Brandybuck, in return for much hospitality, got a dozen bottles of Old Winyards: a strong red wine from the Southfarthing....

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 1, A Long-expected Party


History

circa 2670
Tobold plants 'pipe-weed' in the Southfarthing. ...

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age

... [Hobbits] imbibed or inhaled, through pipes of clay or wood, the smoke of the burning leaves of a herb, which they called pipe-weed or leaf.... A great deal of mystery surrounds the origin of this peculiar custom.... All that could be discovered about it in antiquity was put together by Meriadoc Brandybuck ... and since he and the tobacco of the Southfarthing play a part in the history that follows, his remarks in the introduction to his Herblore of the Shire may be quoted.

... '[All] accounts agree that Tobold Hornblower of Longbottom in the Southfarthing first grew the true pipe-weed in his gardens in the days of Isengrim the Second, about the year 1070 of Shire-reckoning. The best home-grown still comes from that district, especially the varieties now known as Longbottom Leaf, Old Toby, and Southern Star.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Prologue, Concerning Pipe-weed

2953
... Being jealous and afraid of Gandalf [Saruman] sets spies to watch all his movements; and notes his interest in the Shire. He soon begins to keep agents in Bree and the Southfarthing.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age

[circa 3017: Saruman opens trade with the Shire]
Saruman had long taken an interest in the Shire -- because Gandalf did, and he was suspicious of him; and because ... he had taken to the "Halflings' leaf," and needed supplies, but ... kept this as secret as he could. Latterly other motives were added. He liked to extend his power, especially into Gandalf's province, and he found that the money he could provide for the purchase of "leaf" was giving him power, and was corrupting some of the Hobbits, especially the Bracegirdles, who owned many plantations, and so also the Sackville-Bagginses.1

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Other Versions of the Story

[Autumn 3018: Occupation of the Shire]
'It all began with Pimple [Lotho Sackville-Baggins], as we call him,' said Farmer Cotton.... Seems he wanted to own everything himself, and then order other folk about. ...

'Of course he started with a lot of property in the Southfarthing which he had from his dad; and it seems he'd been selling a lot o' the best leaf, and sending it away quietly for a year or two. But at the end o' last year he began sending away loads of stuff, not only leaf. Things began to get short, and winter coming on, too. Folk got angry, but he had his answer. A lot of Men, ruffians mostly, came with great waggons, some to carry off the goods south-away, and others to stay. ... Soon they began lording it around and taking what they wanted.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 8, The Scouring of the Shire

'Well now, what about a smoke, while you tell us what has been happening in the Shire?' [Pippin] said.

'There isn't no pipe-weed now,' said Hob; 'at least only for the Chief's men. All the stocks seem to have gone. We do hear that waggon-loads of it went away down the old road out of the Southfarthing, over Sarn Ford way. That would be the end o' last year, after you left. But it had been going away quietly before that, in a small way. That Lotho --'

'Now you shut up, Hob Hayward!' cried several of the others. 'You know talk o' that sort isn't allowed. The Chief will hear of it, and we'll all be in trouble.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 8, The Scouring of the Shire

3020
S.R. 1420: The Great Year of Plenty

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age

Altogether 1420 in the Shire was a marvellous year. Not only was there wonderful sunshine and delicious rain, in due times and perfect measure, but there seemed something more: an air of richness and growth, and a gleam of a beauty beyond that of mortal summers that flicker and pass upon this Middle-earth. ...

In the Southfarthing the vines were laden, and the yield of 'leaf' was astonishing; and everywhere there was so much corn that at Harvest every barn was stuffed.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 9, The Grey Havens


Notes

1 Lobelia Bracegirdle married Otho Sackville-Baggins; their son was Lotho, who seized control of the Shire at the time of the War of the Ring, and was then known as "the Chief."

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Notes, Note 17

Contributors: Elena Tiriel 11May05, 31Oct05, 1Dec05

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