Project Northmoor: A Red Light Over Tolkien’s House

The internet is currently buzzing with stories about Project Northmoor: the plan to buy J.R.R. Tolkien’s old house in Oxford, with the aim of turning it into a Centre:

As interesting as this is, there are some significant flies in the ointment. Before anyone considers donating, I would strongly recommend reading the discussion here:

Essentially, the objections are as follows:

  • The Tolkien Estate is not involved.
  • The Northmoor property does not need saving. There are no plans to demolish it, and indeed it is a Grade II Listed Property, which means any alterations need external regulatory consent –
  • The proposal would not create a publicly accessible Tolkien Museum, but rather a vaguely-defined cultural space for seminars and creative writing retreats. The connection with Tolkien is not clear, beyond using his old house.
  • The donations will not be refunded if the property is not bought.
  • As per the discussion, there seems to be some issue with donations from the USA not necessarily going towards the property purchase.
  • Building a hobbit house in the garden, a flet in the tree, and a ‘Smaug’s Lair’ makes it sound like Disneyland.

Putting all of this together… I am sceptical about this project, especially when one considers that many people are facing significant pandemic-related hardship. There are better ways of spending millions in 2020.

Addendum: As of 8th December, the Tolkien Society itself has weighed in, making an excellent critique of Project Northmoor along the way:

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