Bree Houses

Materials, Equipment and Paints Used:
Thin Cardboard
Car Body Repair Mesh
Balsa Wood Sheets
Hirst Arts Mold #70
Plastic Topped Pins
PVA Glue
Metal Rule
Sharp Craft Knife
Cutting Board
Chaos Black
Graveyard Earth
Kommando Kharki
Bleached Bone
Codex Grey
Dark Flesh

The village of Bree had some hundred stone houses of the Big Folk, mostly above the Road, nestling on the hillside with windows looking west. On that side, running in more than half a circle from the hill and back to it, there was a deep dike with a thick hedge on the inner side.


Bree-land is a small, settled area in central Eriador that lies just to the east of the Tyrn Gorthad, the ancient Barrow-downs. The region has been almost continuously inhabited since the First Age.
In T.A. 1700 Bree is not much different than it would beat the time of the War of the Ring some 1300 years later — a prosperous, quiet but sometimes threatened farming community standing near the intersection of the Great East Road and the Greenway, the two major thoroughfares of the Kingdom of Arnor. Bree-land is quite small and contains four villages within its boundaries: Bree, on the western slope of Bree Hill; Staddle, on the other side of the hill; Combe, a few miles to the east, and Archet, which lies a few miles north east of Bree. The Chetwood, a good sized but tame forest is also considered part of Bree-land and lies just north of Archet. The whole region is a generally pleasant, peaceful, and law-abiding spot where Men and Hobbits dwell together in peace, facing danger but rarely — unless one ventures to the Barrow-downs in search of gold and jewels and magic items, or is unfortunate enough to run into the bandits that plague the highways outside of Bree-land proper.
Bree's streets are cobbled, and people take great care that sewage does not run freely. Sewage is commonly saved and used as fertilizer, since most villagers are farmers. Water is plentiful in the area; the town has several wells that are used and shared by the community. Several families of Hobbits live on the upper slopes of Bree-hill, but the majority reside in Staddle. Bree's Hobbits have dug their small cosy smials parallel to the slope of the hill so that their holes get the maximum amount of sunlight. Most smials consist of a series of adjoining rooms with wide windows to catch the light. Many smials have several doors built for the convenience of the inhabitants. Quite often, Hobbits tend pretty, sloping gardens in front of the smials and keep their cattle and other animals in small sheds.
The men and Hobbits of Bree have close friendly relationships, often working together on various farm tasks. Commonly they trade off farm chores, men accomplishing a task better suited to a mannish height for a Hobbit-farmer, and vice versa. The Halflings' adept fingers are in particular demand in close quarters or where extreme dexterity is desired. Some of the mannish families even have Hobbit-sized chairs in their parlours; their children enjoy having their own crafted furniture.

This article is going to cover the basic techniques needed to build a Bree house that you can apply to all Bree Houses or other building projects.


I wanted quite an accurate layout based on the town we see in Bree, so I spend some time gathering all the pictures I could find from the internet but this still didn't give me enough information to plan properly so I went through the scene in Fellowship of the Ring that is set in Bree and took many screen grabs until I was happy I had all the pictures that showed me what I needed. When the game was originally released the Perry Twins built an excellent Bree gaming board that was on display in Warhammer World for a time that I was luckily enough to see. A friend of mine took some pictures of it and these provided further information.

(Picture taken by Adrian Champion)

The first stage was deciding on a scale and how big the buildings are going to be. I once made Bree Houses out of card and each floor was 3” tall which ultimately proved to be too high. For these houses I decided on each floor being 2” high.

Before I got started on the main houses I started on a generic one that could still be used on the table top as an extra building but would help me get the techniques down. I knew this house would have a timber upper floor and brick ground floor and have a tiled roof.

Cutting the Foamcore Walls

The main walls were made from foam core. I measured and drew out each of the wall pieces and marked out where the windows and doors would be. Then using a metal rule, sharp craft knife and cutting board I cut all the pieces out. One thing to take note of when measuring is the thickness of the foamcore itself, if you want the long wall to be 8” long, deducted twice the width of the foamcore you are using. Otherwise when you glue the pieces together you wall will be longer than you planned.

Once everything had been cut out, the walls were then glued together using PVA glue. I can be an idea to use pieces of foamcore that butt up against the wall joins on the inside to keep them at right angles.

Put to one side and allow the glue to dry.

Assembling the Stone Wall

It is a good idea to spend some time casting lots of bricks before you start your project. Even if you make too many I am sure that in time you will use them for projects. I have many Hirst Art moulds and boxes of precast blocks, so that if I want to start a project I can and then cast some more when I run low.

As I wanted the walls to be 2” tall this meant that I would be using four layers of bricks. Mould #70 handily comes with arches for doorways and windows so I used them in places. I made the length and width of the ground floor walls a little narrower so that the upper floor would over hang as seen in many timber based houses in the real world and in the set of Bree in The Fellowship of the Ring. The bricks are glued using PVA glue and left to set for about 24 hours.

The scope for this project was to originally contain detailed interiors as well as exteriors as I wanted to used them in a SBG/RPG hybrid I was working on, which I have since shelved. Since that time I decided just to concentrate on the exterior with a view to return to detailing the interior as and when needed. This means that during that production photos you will see the interior being worked upon but not shown in the final pictures.

The Roof

The roofs where made of the same thickness of foamcore as the walls and was cut to match the pitch of the roof slope of the walls. Inside to help the roof hold together two triangles of the same pitch as the slope. These are then glued inside.

Once the glue has set I went about tiling it. The tiles where made from cut up pieces of thin cardboard, the kind that cereal boxes are made of. The tiles were about 1/4” - 1/2” square. The ridge tiles where double the length and bent down the middle. I spent time preparing many tiles so that I could just apply them to all the roofs when needed.

Once the roof was tiled I added a chimney. This was once again made from Hirst Art blocks. To attch the chimney to the roof the bottom row of blocks would need to be angled. Luckily mould #70 comes with just such a block. Chimney pots were made from drawing pins with plastic tops.

The pin itself was removed with pliers and then the pots attached the the stack using PVA glue. Once assembled the complete chimney was glued to the roof. Due to the angle it may need to be held in place by something whilst it dries.

The Timber, Doors and Windows

The timber beams are made from balsa wood sheets of quite a thin size. I cut out strips that were just over 1/4” thick. When cutting I used a metal rule to get straight beams. The beams were then glued on the walls using PVA and left to set. Once set, taking a craft knife the edges were nicked and cut to age and weather them. Timber posts were also put down the sides (the soffits) of the roof.

The windows were made from squares cut from car body repair mesh, which can be purchased from most car accessory shops. It comes in a handy diamond mesh and is metal making it ideal to represent the lead lined windows found in these style of houses. They would glued into the windows just shy of being flush with the outside of the wall, inside it gives the impression of a windowsill.

The doors were made from slightly thicker balsa sheets than that which was used for the timber beams. To get the shape the off cut from when the doorway out was used as a template and traced around. Before cutting out I lightly scored lengths down the door to represent the wooden planks the door was made up from. Two lengths of balsa the length as the door was attached towards the top and bottom and hinges and metalwork (such as the door lock) was cut out of thin card and glues in to place.

Rectangular lengths of balsa wood were glued to the underside of the overhangs on the width of the walls.


Before undercoating on the exposed foamcore wall sections I thickly applied a layer of PVA glue to give the walls some texture during the painting stage.

Everything on the house was undercoated in black. If you plan on using spray undercoat one thing to be aware of is that the spray will melt the exposed foam parts of the foamcore. A handy tip is to first cover these parts in a layer of PVA glue and allow to dry, this can be done when applying PVA to the wall parts for texture.

The walls were first coated in Graveyard Earth, then drybrushed with Kommando Kharki and finally drybrushed with Bleached Bone

The beams and wooden areas such as the doors were painted in Scorched Brown and then using a small decorating paint brush the entire wall was drybrushed using Graveyard Earth. This weathers and dirties both the wood beams and the walls themselves.

The stone walls and chimneys were drybrushed using Codex Grey then drybrushed with Kommando Kharki and finally drybrushed with Bleached Bone

The roof was painted in Codex Grey not too heavy as to totally cover the black underneath. It was then drybrushed in areas in Graveyard Earth and Dark Flesh This weathers the roof. The chimney pots were painted in Dark Flesh.

The Completed Houses

With the first generic building constructed I then drew out plans for the rest of the buildings I wanted to make for my board. They were all made using the same techniques as detailed above.

Miniature from Ebob Miniatures Town Folk

That's all the buildings constructed for Bree but before the board is complete there needs to be walls, roads and a few more details but that is for another time and article.