Oxford House Where Tolkien Wrote Lord Of The Rings Is Listed

By David Prudames | 23 November 2004
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Shows a photograph of a large detached house with a wooden fence in front of it.

20 Northmoor Road, Oxford home to the Tolkien family betwen 1930 and 1937. Courtesy Karl Harrison.

Built in the 1920s and sitting comfortably in the leafy suburbs of Oxford, 20 Northmoor Road is a large, but unassuming property.

But from now on it will have the protection afforded by Grade II listed status and all because a certain JRR Tolkien wrote a rather famous series of books while living there in the 1930s.

Despite having no special architectural qualities, the house is considered to be as the place where Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and virtually all of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Announcing the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s decision, Heritage Minister Andrew McIntosh explained how the house’s overwhelming historic importance qualified it for listing.

"Buildings are usually listed because of their fine architecture or unique design," the minister explained.

Shows a photograph of a bust of JRR Tolkien.

Tolkien's day job was as Merton Professor of English at Oxford University and the English faculty library now has a bust of the author on display. Photo: Jon Pratty. © 24 Hour Museum.

"But we can also give protection to buildings that have historical association with nationally important people or events. Professor Tolkien's house in Oxford is a fine example of this."

Built by local architect Fred Openshaw in 1924, 20 Northmoor Road was originally designed for Basil Blackwell owner of Oxford's famous bookshop.

JRR Tolkien moved into the house with his family in 1930 and is known to have written The Hobbit and most of The Lord of the Rings trilogy in the drawing room.

The Tolkiens left the eight-bedroom property in 1947, but it remains much as it was back then.

As well as numerous features, the original interior plan has survived except for the removal of a wall between the former study and drawing room by Professor Tolkien himself.

"The house is largely unaltered since Tolkien's time, with original doors, doorhandles and ornate window catches," added Andrew McIntosh.

Shows a photograph of the ornate stonework on the exterior of the Radcliffe Camera at the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

Tolkien lived in Oxford for much of his life and its many stunning buildings are said to have given him a great deal of his inspiration. Photo: Jon Pratty. © 24 Hour Museum.

"As such it is an important part of our national heritage, and worthy of the additional layer of protection that listing brings."

Despite being an external viewing stop for many Tolkien devotees who pass through Oxford in search of where he lived and worked, the house has always been in private hands.

It was placed on the market in May this year and eventually sold for more than its guide price of £1.5 million.

However, its new owners will now be unable to make any significant changes to the exterior or interior without listed building consent.

As a Grade II listed property, significant care will be taken over decisions affecting its future and any alterations will have to respect the particular character and interest of the building.

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