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 – https://www.hiscox.co.uk/home-insurance/cover-stories/grade-ii-listed-building-regulations/
- 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: https://www.tolkiensociety.org/2020/12/statement-on-project-northmoor/