20 Northmoor Road near Oxford, England is a Grade 2 listed building which is currently on the market for £4.5Million. Newly formed charity Project Northmoor has launched a fund-raising campaign in order to purchase the property from the current owners. The charity is hoping to turn the building into a writer’s retreat, running short creative writing courses and the like. The bedrooms will be transformed to reflect aspects of his Middle-earth cultures and the garden restored. It will not be a museum as the house is in a residential area.
Celebrities such as Annie Lennox, Sir Ian McKellen, John Rhys-Davies and Martin Freeman have voiced their support for the campaign and a promotional video featuring these stars can be found on Northmoor’s website. The people behind the campaign are novelist Julia Golding and her husband Joss Saunders, a publishing and charity lawyer. Golding’s books are primarily murder mystery and children’s fiction.
Despite celebrity support this has caused some consternation amongst fans of Tolkien’s work. Tolkien’s legacy is well-established; substantial and highly successful efforts have been made to preserve his work and artefacts of his personal history. Academic organisations as well as groups as The Tolkien Society have worked hard to preserve all things Tolkien. It is for these reasons that fans have taken to social media to question the value of this project and how it serves Tolkien's legacy.
The building’s Grade Two status means that the structure is in no immediate danger, regardless of who owns it in the future.
The campaign will run for three months, so we should know by March 2021 if Project Northmoor is successful.
Update added on 8th November 2020: The Tolkien Society have released a statement in regards to the project. It begins "The Trustees of the Tolkien Society wish to make it clear to Society members, supporters and the public that it is not involved in, or affiliated with, Project Northmoor."
The full statement can be found here: https://www.tolkiensociety.org/2020/12/statement-on-project-northmoor/