Effort to buy and preserve Tolkien house in Oxford

CNA Staff, Dec 4, 2020 / 04:30 pm (CNA).- Actors from the films trilogies the “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” have backed a campaign to turn the former home of Catholic author JRR Tolkien into an educational center.

Project Northmoor is seeking to raise nearly $6.5 million to purchase the house where Tolkien wrote his most famous novels. As of Dec.4, the project has funded $250,000.

A video in support of the project was released Dec. 2. It includes the actors Ian McKellen, who portrayed Gandalf; Martin Freeman, who portrayed Bilbo Baggins; and John Rhys-Davies, who played Gimli.

McKellen tweeted that authors of Tolkien’s stature have museums and educational centers established in their memory. He encouraged Tolkien fans to donate to the campaign.

“We cannot achieve this without the worldwide support of the Tolkien fans,” he said. “We will only succeed if we do this together as a fellowship.”

While a fellow at Pembroke College, and later Merton, Tolkien lived at the house on Northmoor Road in Oxford from 1930 until 1947.

If the project raises enough money, the six-bedroom home will be renovated and the garden restored. This will include a hobbit house in the garden and a pipe-smoking area around Tolkien’s tree. The Tolkien house would also involve creative courses and special events.

“Unbelievably, considering his importance, there is no centre devoted to Tolkien anywhere in the world,” said Rhys-Davies, according to BBC.

“[It would be a] literary hub that will inspire new generations of writers, artists and filmmakers.”

Project Northmoor was founded by British Novelist Julia Golding. She said it is a huge challenge to raise this money in three months, but noted that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“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, ” she said, according to BBC.

The video also features Leith McPherson, dialect coach on The Hobbit movies; Malcolm Guite, poet and scholar; and Golding, director of Project Northmoor. They highlighted the important influence that Tolkien’s life and literature have had.

“Tolkien’s world has been an inspiration for many artists, writers, filmmakers. But, so far there has been no specific place dedicated to the appreciation of Tolkien’s life,” said Guite.

“Tolkien built his vast mythology for his mythical world between teaching Oxford students the languages and literature he loved,” said Michael Ward, a British scholar and author.

“He also invented his own languages. From the beautiful language of the elves to the terrible Black Speech of Sauron,” said McPherson, switching between Elvish and the Dark Tongue of Mordor.

Golding said that if completed, the house will be dedicated to the fans and expressed hope that the house would become a center for fans from all over the world.

“This is our vision at project Northmoor, a charity set up to purchase the house and then go on to establish the center. We hope one day to welcome Tolkien enthusiasts from the world over to take part in our events.”

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