September 16, 2021

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Campaign to buy JRR Tolkien’s house backed by Lord of the Rings actors | JRR Tolkien

A quest to save the home of JRR Tolkien has begun, with Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins – or at least their earthly counterparts – joining the bid to turn the house where he wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings into a museum.

Tolkien and his family moved into 20 Northmoor Road in Oxford in 1930, and lived there for 17 years while he was professor of Anglo-Saxon at the university. It was there he wrote The Hobbit, a novel that began as a bedtime story for his children, and followed it up with The Lord of the Rings.

Author Julia Golding has launched Project Northmoor, a charity that has started a crowdfunding campaign to raise £4.5m ($6m) to buy the house and turn it into a literary centre before it is put on the market. The project has been backed by actors including Ian McKellen, who plays Gandalf in Peter Jackson’s adaptations of Tolkien’s books, Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo Baggins, and John Rhys-Davies, who plays Gimli.

The seven-bedroom house, which has a large garden, would be renovated to show what it would have been like when Tolkien lived there, with plans to run a series of retreats and cultural events in the building and online. The house, which is Grade II-listed, does not belong to the Tolkien estate – the author moved out in 1947 – and the estate is not involved with Project Northmoor.

“Unbelievably, considering his importance, there is no centre devoted to Tolkien anywhere in the world,” said Rhys-Davies. “The vision is to make Tolkien’s house into a literary hub that will inspire new generations of writers, artists and film-makers for many years to come.”

“To raise $6m in three months is a huge challenge,” said Golding. “However, we need only to look at Frodo and Sam’s journey from Rivendell to Mount Doom, which took that same amount of time – and we are inspired that we can do this, too.”

“We cannot achieve this without the support of the worldwide community of Tolkien fans, our fellowship of funders,” said McKellen.

Golding has negotiated a three-month fundraising window with the current owner and hopes to raise £4.5m. The house would cost £4m, with the remainder to be used on building regulations, startup costs and developing the literary programmes.

Any further money raised would be used to establish a fund to help those on low incomes to come to the house for courses, build a hobbit house at the end of the garden, or a “Smaug’s lair” for pipe smokers. Once established, the charity hopes to be financially self-sustaining.

“Our vision is to make Tolkien’s house not a dry museum, but a homely house of continuing creativity,” the project organisers say.

If the project is not fully funded, the organisers say the money raised will be used to fulfil the charity’s objectives of promoting Tolkien’s works, including establishing courses and events on the author to “inspire future generations of writers and artists in fantasy and other genres”.

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