A wholly expected journey is underway to buy the house of ‘Lord Of The Rings’ creator J.R.R. Tolkien. And the crowdfunding campaign is backed by Gandalf and Bilbo themselves, aka actors Sir Ian McKellen and Martin Freeman.
Project Northmoor aim to use the property as a cultural touchstone for fans of Middle Earth from across the regular world. The charity is named after the address, Northmoor Road in Oxford.
He may have written about cosy Hobbit Holes but Prof Tolkien’s Oxford home is considerably more spacious. It was built in 1924 and is Grade II listed.
With 6 bedrooms and a big garden it’s available at a cost of just over $6 million. Enough to make even the Dark Lord raise an eyebrow. A blue plaque celebrates the former owner.
Should the Project succeed in raising the orc-inspiring figure, they’ll get to work turning the house into a haven for fans. But this isn’t a vanity project – the aim is to build a literary centre for visitors that combines immersive fantasy with education and enlightenment.
Tolkien was after all an academic who taught students at the nearby University. Author Julia Golding (‘The Companions Quartet’) is behind the move.
A star-studded video has been posted online to drum up support for the super expensive quest. Alongside McKellen and Freeman is John Rhys-Davies, who played dwarf warrior Gimli in Peter Jackson’s original movie trilogy.
Also lending her voice is Annie Lennox. She provided the track ‘Into The West’ for ‘The Return of the King’ (2003). Other notable names include Sir Derek Jacobi, who appeared in last year’s big screen ‘Tolkien’ biopic, and former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
McKellen refers in the promotional video to “our Fellowship funders”, who the team hope are going to aid them in establishing the first dedicated Tolkien hub. Surprise is expressed that such an endeavor has never been attempted before, given the profile of the man and his multi million pound legacy. Golding admits the online request is “a big ask in difficult times”.
What happens if the green light is given? Project Northmoor’s website writes the bedrooms “would reflect the cultures he invented”.
Meanwhile the outdoor spaces “would be restored to a beauty of which the inventor of Sam Gamgee would be proud.” An “elven treehouse ‘flet’” (or open platform) is also in the offing depending on the final tally, according to Architectural Digest.
Will it be a pricey destination? The Digest writes there is “a program to fund low-income Tolkien fans’ pilgrimages”, together with a possible “hobbit house and other LOTR accoutrements to the property.”
Variety reports that most of the cash – $5.3 million – is going on the bricks and mortar to begin with. The remainder “will go to the necessary renovations”.
There are also the “start-up costs of the charity”. Finally, they mention “additional funds going towards developing the literary programs.” Events are planned both on site and online. Writers’ retreats where creative folk can be inspired are mooted, together with virtual treats for remote audiences.
The Professor lived at the property with his family between 1930 – 47. His most famous works were apparently committed to the page there. The world of Bilbo Baggins, Gollum, Treebeard and the rest began in the form of bedtime tales for Tolkien’s children, before being fleshed out into the epic franchise known today.
When he passed away in 1973 various screen versions were produced. As well as the Jackson films there was an animated take by ‘Fritz The Cat’ creator Ralph Bakshi in 1978.
The early 1980s saw a BBC Radio production starring future big screen Baggins Ian Holm. A lost audio serial by the BBC was made in the 1950s. Tolkien was dissatisfied with the end result, as revealed in correspondence. He famously vetoed a planned movie starring The Beatles.
The Project Northmoor crowdfunder continues till March 15th next year. Reportedly the property is off the market until the campaign ends.
Another Article From Us: Irish Neolithic Tomb is the Oldest Monument in THE World
Whether Tolkien’s followers can achieve their goal is uncertain. In 2020 it’s a challenge trickier than snatching gold from beneath Smaug’s talon…