Lord of the Rings' fans are trying to buy JRR Tolkien's home to turn into a literary centre

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J.R.R. Tolkien's home is on the market.
New Line Cinema/Courtesy of Breckon and Breckon
  • A group of JRR Tolkien fans are trying to fundraise to buy "The Lord of The Rings" author's home.
  • The property is located in Oxford, England, about 57 miles from London.
  • The group, Project Northmoor, hopes to run creative workshops for aspiring writers from the space.
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"The Lord of the Rings" fans have long followed the adventures of Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, and Gandalf across the wildly popular book and movie series - and they can't get enough of the beloved epic-fantasy saga. There's even a long-awaited Amazon TV series adaptation in the works.

Now, some of those fans are trying to raise R90 million to buy the house that belonged to the man behind the trilogy, JRR Tolkien, so they can turn into "a place for new creativity for the next generation of writers and artists."

"There would be a program of events throughout the year," Julia Golding, who is leading the initiative, told Insider. "If you're a screenwriter, you come for the screenwriting course; or writing a fantasy novel course. We'll gauge the appetite and put on courses to fulfil the need."

According to a statement shared with Insider, the charitable group, Project Northmoor (named after the street in Oxford where the house is located), intends to put most of the money towards purchasing the house, and to use the remaining R10 million for charity start-up costs, appropriate renovations to the house, and to develop the writing programs.

J.R.R. Tolkien.
Haywood Magee/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, a scholar of Old and Middle English and professor at Oxford University, is best known for writing "The Hobbit" in 1937 and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy throughout the 1950s.

"The Hobbit" tells the story of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit living in the fictional Middle-earth, who stumbles across a magic ring. The trilogy follows Bilbo's nephew, Frodo, as he tries to dispose of the ring while squaring off against the evil Sauron.

Tolkien's former house is in Oxford

Tolkien wrote both "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and "The Hobbit" in the 7-bedroom Oxford, England, house, which is located 57 miles from London.

He was born in Bloemfontein in the then Orange Free State, but went to England with his mother after his father died. he spent more than 40 years as an academic at Oxford. 

Country Life reported in 2019 that the house, which Tolkien bought in 1930, was going on the market for £4.56 million. About a year later, Vivian Marino reported for The New York Times that the asking price had been cut.

Real-estate agency Breckon & Breckon held the listing but they took it down to give Project Northmoor time to raise money, according to Marino. 

The home's massive garden.
Courtesy of Breckon and Breckon

Marino writes that many features of the home's original design from Tolkien's time living there are still around, such as the hardwood floors, high ceilings, wood fireplace, and an old bell system.

The house still has an old bell system and high ceilings.
Courtesy of Breckon and Breckon

The bright-yellow bathroom, pictured below, even has a clawfoot tub. 

A bright-yellow bathroom.
Courtesy of Breckon and Breckon

According to Marino, the last time the home changed hands was in 2004 when the current owners (who are not related to the Tolkien family) bought it for the equivalent of around R30 million. 

The home's original features may have been maintained because it's listed as a "grade 2" building, which means it's of "special interest" historically and the owners are legally required to make "every effort to preserve it."

Project Northmoor's fundraising efforts are controversial

The group started fundraising in December and has until March to meet its goal. If it doesn't, the home will be re-listed and available for anyone to purchase.

A spokesperson for Project Northmoor told Insider that, as of February, they've raised about £750,000 and "are pursuing other routes to financing the house to give [them] more time on the fundraising."

While popular stars from "The Lord of the Rings" franchise, like Sir Ian McKellen, who played Gandalf, and Martin Freeman, who played Bilbo, have extended their support to the initiative, it's also met some backlash.

Most notably, as The Guardian reported, The Tolkien Society refused to put its weight behind the project.

The Tolkien Society describes itself as an "educational charity and literary society devoted to the study and promotion of the life and works of the author and academic J.R.R. Tolkien." According to its website, the Tolkien Society was founded in 1969 and "received the blessing of Tolkien himself when he agreed to become the Society's president," which he remains in perpetuity, while his daughter, Priscilla, currently serves as its vice-president.

In a statement shared on its website in December, The Tolkien Society said that the trustees "unanimously concluded" that Project Northmoor would not further "The Society's objective to educate the public in, and promote research into, the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien."

A representative for Project Northmoor told Insider that, "The Tolkien Society has not responded to Julia's outreach to them" and that she "has been speaking with much more helpful Oxford-based organisations that are more relevant to the project."

The Tolkien Society declined to comment when reached by Insider. The Tolkien estate didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.

While, as The Guardian noted, some of Project Northmoor's trustees are affiliated with Christian organisations and Tolkien himself was a Roman Catholic, the group stresses that it is not a religious organisation, and the writing centre they're hoping to establish at Tolkien's home wouldn't be either.

"The centre will be a 'come as you are' meeting place, friendly and open to people of all faiths, or no faith," a Project Northmoor representative told Insider.

"This isn't a religious charity. It's an educational literary charity," Golding told Insider. 

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