People from around the globe, including a list of Hollywood stars, have joined with award-winning author Julia Golding to launch a crowdfunding campaign to try and save 20 Northmoor Road, the Oxford house in which famed Catholic author J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, in advance of its being put on the market for sale.
The initiative, Project Northmoor, aims to purchase the house and set up a literary center in honor of Tolkien, one of the most beloved literary writers of the Twentieth Century. Tolkien, a devout Catholic whose faith influenced and penetrated his writings, is best known as the author of the high fantasy works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Preserving his legacy and the importance of his works is a priority for Catholics who value the great literature influenced by Tolkien’s Catholic faith.
Ian McKellen, the acclaimed actor who earned an Oscar nomination for his role as wizard Gandalf in the 2001 film, The Fellowship of the Rings, is helping to gather a new fellowship of funders to purchase the house. A crowdfunding campaign opened on December 2 at www.projectnorthmoor.org.
To kick off the project, McKellen and a host of celebrities and others associated with the Tolkien universe came together for a special video. Appearing in the video are Emmy Awarding-winning actor Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit trilogy), music legend Annie Lennox (who wrote and performed the Oscar-winning theme “Into the West,” from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), actor John Rhys-Davies (Gimli in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy), the Emmy and Tony Award-winning actor Sir Derek Jacobi (Tolkien, Farmer Giles of Ham), and illustrator John Howe (The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit). Other notables include Lord Rowan Williams of Oystermouth (a former Archbishop of Canterbury), Joseph Loconte (author of A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and the Great War), and Cliff Broadway (aka Quickbeam, TheOneRing.net).
The period house, which is an hour’s drive from London, is largely unchanged since it was built in 1924. It features six large bedrooms upstairs, one bedroom on the ground floor, and a spacious garden. The Tolkien family moved there in 1930 and stayed for 17 years, during which time Tolkien wrote Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and where he also hosted C.S. Lewis. The historic home is located just a few miles from his home parish.
With this crowdfunding campaign, Golding has seized on this once-in-a-generation opportunity. The aim is to include Tolkien fans from around the world to purchase the house and set up a Tolkien center. The funding target is roughly $6 million USD, of which $5.3 million USD is to pay for the house. The remainder will go to the necessary renovations to comply with building regulations, start-up costs of the charity, with additional funds going towards developing the literary programs. The operation will be financially self-sustaining once established.
“To raise six million dollars in three months is a huge challenge,” says Golding. “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!”
“We cannot achieve this without the support of the worldwide community of Tolkien fans, our fellowship of funders,” said actor Ian McKellen.
As a charitable venture, the mission of Project Northmoor is to promote Tolkien’s work, allow fantasy writers and artists to come together to write, learn and create, and preserve the fascinating house for future generations to enjoy. The facility would also have an engaging online presence to bring into the house’s program those who cannot travel to Oxford.
Fans may donate to the Project Northmoor crowdfunding campaign at www.projectnorthmoor.org through March 15, 2021. If the campaign to purchase the house is successful, donors will have an array of benefits: from having their name listed in the Red Book of funders that will sit in Tolkien’s study, to being invited to VIP events and even overnight stays – depending on the level of donation.