Band of actors launch quest to buy J.R.R. Tolkien’s £4.5m former Oxfordshire home

Sir Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman and John Rhys-Davies are among The Lord of the Rings stars who have joined forces to purchase author J.R.R. Tolkien’s £4.5million famed home in Oxfordshire.

The stars, including singer Annie Lennox and actor Sir Derek Jacobi, have joined the award-winning author Julia Golding to launch a crowdfunding campaign in a bid to save the former home of the late author on 20 Northmoor Road, where he penned his breakthrough novel The Hobbit and later The Lord of the Rings trilogy. 

The charitable venture, which is titled Project Northmoor, aims to buy the author’s home and transform it into a literary centre dedicated to his works.

It is also hoped that the centre will ‘allow a diverse range of fantasy writers and artists to come together to write, learn and create’. 

After securing a three-month fundraising window to purchase the property from its current owners, Ms Golding, who is best known for her Cat Royal series and The Companions Quartet, said she was determined to complete the task ahead. 

A host of stars have launched a fundraising campaign in an effort to purchase the former home of J.R.R Tolkien on 20 Northmoor Road in Oxfordshire

A host of stars have launched a fundraising campaign in an effort to purchase the former home of J.R.R Tolkien on 20 Northmoor Road in Oxfordshire

A host of stars have launched a fundraising campaign in an effort to purchase the former home of J.R.R Tolkien on 20 Northmoor Road in Oxfordshire

A step inside the lavish property, which was built in 1924 and sits just an hour's drive away from London, reveals a living room that provides views of the garden outside

A step inside the lavish property, which was built in 1924 and sits just an hour's drive away from London, reveals a living room that provides views of the garden outside

A step inside the lavish property, which was built in 1924 and sits just an hour’s drive away from London, reveals a living room that provides views of the garden outside

Sir Ian McKellen called on supporters to donate to the house

Sir Ian McKellen called on supporters to donate to the house

Actor Martin Freeman also appeared in the video appeal

Actor Martin Freeman also appeared in the video appeal

Actors Sir Ian McKellen (left), who starred as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and Martin Freeman (right) who played a young Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit urged supporters to donate 

The period house, which sits just an hour’s drive from London and was built in 1924, features six large bedrooms upstairs, including one bedroom on the ground floor, and a spacious garden. 

Covering two floors and providing almost 4,000 square feet of accommodation, the Tolkien family moved to the property in 1930 and stayed there for 17 years. 

His breakthrough novel, The Hobbit, was published seven years after he moved into the sprawling estate. 

In 1947, with their children now grown, Tolkien and his wife Edith left 20 Northmoor Road for the Oxford suburb of Headington before heading to Bournemouth in 1959 after the author’s retirement 

The house was later bought by a private buyer in 2004 for more than £1.5million and is now adorned with a blue plaque which reads: ‘J.R.R. Tolkien, Author of Lord Of The Rings, Lived here 1930-1947.’  

It was given Grade II-listed status on the basis of Professor Tolkien’s importance despite having no particular architectural qualities.

Last year, Oxfordshire estate agents Breckon and Breckon said it was ‘situated on a generous plot within a leafy central north Oxford suburb’ and described the property as ‘substantial’.   

The author, who was born in South Africa in 1892 and moved to England when he was four, grew up in Sarehole, in Birmingham, and went on to became a Professor at Oxford University where he studied Old and Middle English.

While working at the university, he invented languages of his own but when the First World War broke out, he enlisted as a second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers and fought in the Battle of the Somme.

He was eventually released from duty due to illness and returned to Oxford where he began to work on The Hobbit.  

His books contained stories from a fantasy land partially inspired by ancient European myths and the world had its own sets of maps, lore and its own unique language.    

He called it Middle-earth and the world was peopled by men, elves, dwarves, trolls, orcs, goblins and hobbits. 

During his time at the residence, the author joined the university’s informal literary discussion group The Inklings with author C.S Lewis, who went on the pen The Chronicles of Narnia, and the group would meet at The Eagle and Child pub on St Giles’ Street.

Inspired by their love of fantasy writing, the group would usually meet on Thursday evenings and hold discussions of the members’ unfinished works.

Speaking on the challenging task ahead, Ms Golding said: ‘To raise six million dollars in three months is a huge challenge.

‘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!’

Meanwhile Sir Ian McKellen, who starred as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, said: ‘We cannot achieve this without the support of the worldwide community of Tolkien fans, our fellowship of funders.’  

Actor John Rhys-Davies said it was important to save the home

Actor John Rhys-Davies said it was important to save the home

Singer Annie Lenox was among the stars who shared their support for the initiative

Singer Annie Lenox was among the stars who shared their support for the initiative

Actor John Rhys-Davies (left) said the vision to make Tolkien’s house into a literary hub that will inspire new generations of writers, artists and filmmakers’ while singer Annie Lenox (right) also shared her support for the fundraising venture

The period home, which features six large bedrooms upstairs, including one bedroom on the ground floor, also comes with a spacious kitchen fitted with tiled flooring

The period home, which features six large bedrooms upstairs, including one bedroom on the ground floor, also comes with a spacious kitchen fitted with tiled flooring

The period home, which features six large bedrooms upstairs, including one bedroom on the ground floor, also comes with a spacious kitchen fitted with tiled flooring

Sitting just an hour’s drive from London , the property covers two floors and provides almost 4,000 square feet of accommodation

Sitting just an hour’s drive from London , the property covers two floors and provides almost 4,000 square feet of accommodation

Sitting just an hour’s drive from London , the property covers two floors and provides almost 4,000 square feet of accommodation

Sir Derek Jacobi (pictured)  joined forces with the collaboration of celebrities to help purchase the former home of famed author

Sir Derek Jacobi (pictured)  joined forces with the collaboration of celebrities to help purchase the former home of famed author

Julia Golding secured a three-month fundraising window

Julia Golding secured a three-month fundraising window

Sir Derek Jacobi (left)  joined forces with the celebrities to help purchase the former home of famed author. The initiative was launched by the  award-winning author Julia Golding (right) on December 2 after she secured a three-month fundraising window to purchase the property from its current owners

And actor John Rhys-Davies, who played both Gimli and Treebeard in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of The Rings added: ‘Unbelievably, considering his importance, there is no centre devoted to Tolkien anywhere in the world. 

JRR Tolkien: The Oxford Professor whose harrowing memories of the Somme inspired epic Lord of the Rings battles

Tokien went on to write The Hobbit novel and The Lord of the Rings series

Tokien went on to write The Hobbit novel and The Lord of the Rings series

Tokien went on to write The Hobbit novel and The Lord of the Rings series

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in South Africa 1892 and moved to England when he was four. 

He grew up in Sarehole, in Birmingham, and went on to became a Professor at Oxford University where he studied Old and Middle English.

While working at the university, Tolkien invented languages of his own. But when World War I broke out, he enlisted as a second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers and fought in the Battle of the Somme.

He was eventually released from duty due to illness.

When he returned to Oxford after the war he penned a line about a ‘hobbit’ while grading a paper. 

The line went on to become one of his most famous works, The Hobbit novel, and he later wrote The Lord of the Rings series.

The books contained stories from a fantasy land partially inspired by ancient European myths. The world had its own sets of maps, lore and its own unique language.    

He called it Middle-earth and the world was peopled by men, elves, dwarves, trolls, orcs, goblins and hobbits.

The Hobbit was published in 1937, before his famous trilogy. 

Part one of the series, The Fellowship of the Ring was published in 1954, while The Two Towers and The Return of the King followed in 1955.  

Tolkien had four children, three sons and a daughter, who all carried on his legacy after his death on September 2, 1973, at the age of 81. 

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‘The vision is to make Tolkien’s house into a literary hub that will inspire new generations of writers, artists and filmmakers for many years to come.’  

On Wednesday, Sir Ian and a host of celebrities shared their support for the initiative by releasing a fundraising video to mark the launch of the project. 

In their appeal they said: ‘In 1930 a family moved to 20 Northmore road, a big house in the university city of Oxford, England. The young father entertained his children with his stories about a hobbit called Bilbo Baggins and Bilbo went on a quest to the lonely mountain in the company of a wizard.

‘The young man was J.R.R. Tolkien and in the 30s her wrote The Hobbit and by 1939 England was once again at war.

‘The shadow of that war and the earlier one in which Tolkien had himself fought would stretch across the pages of The Lord of the Rings from the shire to the marshes but ultimately good would triumph and peace return both to Middle Earth and the world of 1945.’

They added: ‘Tolkien’s world has been the inspiration for many artists, writers and filmmakers  but so far there has been no specific place dedicated to the appreciation of Tolkien’s life until now.

‘For the first time in many years the Tolkien house is up for sale. We many never have an opportunity like this in our lifetimes.’ 

Sir Ian later took to Twitter to write: ‘Unlike other writers of his stature, there is no centre devoted to J.R.R. Tolkien anywhere in the world.’

While Ms Golding added: ‘It is with great joy I announce along with and many others the campaign to #SaveTolkiensHome! Watch the video and please donate to create the first world centre for Tolkien in his old home. #SaveTolkiensHome.’

Alongside setting up a permanent residence for his literary work, the project aims to include an online presence inside the house in order for writers and artists to take programme without having to leave their homes. 

Last month it was revealed that a previously unpublished anthology of work by the iconic would be released next summer.

The collection of essays on topics ranging from Elvish reincarnation to which characters had beards will be called The Nature of Middleearth. 

The British author, who wrote the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, continued to explore his fantasy setting of Middle Earth until his death in 1973. 

His estate has authorised the new book, which is to be published by HarperCollins in June, The Times reports.  

HarperCollins’ deputy publishing director Chris Smith added: ‘It offers readers a chance to peer over Professor Tolkien’s shoulder at the very moment of discovery: and on every page, Middle-earth is once again brought to extraordinary life’. 

The writings will be edited by Nasa computer engineer and Tolkien expert Carl F Hostetter. 

He previously worked with Tolkien’s son Christopher on editing his father’s writings, until Christopher’s death earlier this year. 

To donate or for more information: www.projectnorthmoor.org                    

Link hienalouca.com

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