Today marks the 8th anniversary of the Grand Order! Slice a generous slab of bacon, serve up yer plumpest pies, and raise a glass of brandy for friends both far and near! Soon, invitations to our anniversary party will be sent out! The Grand Order of the Lost Mathom is eight years today! Although the first hobbits who gathered under the Order banner had met regularly in advance, October 9th marks the official anniversary date. So raise a glass with us today while we look back at years gone, while looking forward to those to come. Happy anniversary everyone! The early days of the Order The Order is a primarily scholarly society dedicated to the preservation, collection and further understanding of mathoms. Their members are also concerned with keeping alive the traditions of storytelling, poetry and song through study, research, performances and lectures. The Order was officially founded by Rowana Fairborn with the support of Thain Paladin Took II. Even before this time it had existed in all but name through an informal group of friends, meeting once a week at the Golden Perch in Stock to share stories and songs around the fireside. The Order soon made its home in the fair village of Songburrow, where it possesses many properties. Most notable of these is Songburrow Hall, a large and rambling burrow at the heart of the village, with a myriad of rooms and secret cellars. The Hall is also the hub of the Order's activities; meetings, tea parties and mathom studies. Songburrow Hall, home of the Grand Order The Order and Mathoms The name of The Order is thought to originate from a single leaf of parchment, documenting the journey of the Fallohide brothers Marcho and Blanco as they came to the Shire. In this brief account (of which the sole copy resides in Songburrow Hall), mention is made of an object of great significance - the so called 'Lost Mathom'. The exact nature and whereabouts of this mathom is the matter of continued debate. Given the Order's interest in mathoms, Songburrow Hall also possesses arguably the finest and most comprehensive collection of mathoms in the Shire, as well as a library of scholarly works, family and genealogical records second only to that of the Great Smials in Tuckborough. The collection itself is impeccably curated and items are often exhibited or lent out to interested parties, though the majority remains on non-permanent display at Songburrow Hall. Given its mathom theme, almost from the outset The Order has attracted the unwarranted attention of The Mathom Society. Keeper Brombard Foxtail has on numerous occasions expressed concern over 'the acquisition of a substantial number of mathoms' held in private hands. Relations between the Order and the Society can best be described as 'frosty', with any ill feeling kept to scholarly one-upmanship and heated debate rather than outright hostility. Mathom appraisal tea at Songburrow Hall The Order today Eight years after its founding, The Grand Order continues to thrive in the Shire, and it is the driving force behind many of the local news and happenings. Currently, the nominal Chief of the Order is Simbo Rumblebelly, while a small group of Voluntary Assistant Chiefs help administer the daily tasks. All members help and assist the Order in planning and running its activities, though. Firm believers in the 'good Shire life', the Order embraces any excuse to gather their friends for huge meals, merry music and good company. In addition to regular activities like the weekly Green Dragon Friday inn nights in Bywater and the biweekly trade markets in Michel Delving, this means a steady stream of parties over the year; Picnics, concerts, yule wassailing or similar. The Order hobbits also strive to take good care of our animal friends, all the way until they end up on our festive tables. This includes supporting farmer Sandson whenever he needs to have his chickens herded safely to various new owners across the Shire (and sometimes even beyond). On the culture side, the Order is home to two dedicated groups of musicians: The Songburrow Strollers and The Brandy Badgers. In addition, the Grand Order Acting Troupe puts on new theatrical works, plays and musicals at irregular intervals. The Songburrow Strollers performing Outside of scholarly circles, The Order is well known for its ongoing charitable program to learn hobbits their letters. This sponsorship extends beyond mere donations, with members of The Order taking an active role in teaching and keeping the traditions and stories of the Shire alive and well through tales and song. Throughout the year, the Historical Society produces a series of field-trips; practical excursions to famous landmarks or forgotten corners of the Shire or areas of hobbit interest. Additionally, the Order hosts regular Mathom tale teas, where people can bring strange and curious objects they have lying around in their chests and have them appraised by mathom experts. Ever since the Order was formally founded, Shire hobbits have enjoyed all the local work and initiatives originating from Songburrow, while simultaneously muttering about 'that strange lot' over at the Hall. Numerous rumours persist that the Order hobbits do not always behave like proper Shire-folk. Not least, they are said to show an adventurous streak that often lead them on travels outside of the Shire boundaries, sometimes even to dangerous places. When confronted with these rumours, Order members are likely to smile, serve up a cup of hot tea and talk about the weather, while inspecting you closely. It is almost as if they look for a similar adventurous streak in you. Looking for mathoms in the most unlikely of places Going forward Currently, many Order members are mysteriously absent from the Shire. The local rumour mill talks about them being off on a Grand Journey to foreign lands, to investigate old tales about hobbits living elsewhere. That they have apparently chosen to do so in the middle of the harvest has lead to much head-shaking and muttering among decent Shire-folk. Still, rumours that the Order plans to throw a magnificent party in a few week's time to celebrate their anniversary has mollified tempers somewhat. Rumours that new Mathom Teas and Chicken Herdings will soon happen again has led to some excited chattering too. And it is soon yule as well, when the Order typically goes wassailing to wish for a grand harvest. It is yule soon, with lots of fun in the Shire! Contacting the Order The Order always enjoys seeing letters arrive at Songburrow Hall, from hobbits enquiring about the Order and its ways, or even applying to join. In practice, potential members come from all walks of life, but the successful ones stand apart because of their inquisitiveness, sociability and aptitude. Members enjoy a wide range of benefits, not least of which is access to the extensive library (not to mention the larders, pantries and cellars), and mathom collection of Songburrow Hall. Members are actively encouraged to seek out and identity items of interest to add to the collection. To contact the Order, please send a letter to Songburrow Hall, 4 Brookbank Street, Songburrow, The Shire. Please note, though, that the Order spends a lot of time reviewing letters arriving to the Hall. Enquiries to join the Order are also unlikely to be accepted unless the Order has gotten to know the applicant, for instance through regular attendances at the Order's activities or recurring meetings in the Shire over some time.