Lord of the Rings Stars Want to Turn J.R.R. Tolkien's Home Into a Museum

The feature film versions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are now available for the first time on 4K, but several celebrities, including a number of people involved with the film franchise, are looking to create a much more immersive Tolkien experience: Sir Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, musician Annie Lennox, John Rhys-Davies, Sir Derek Jacobi, and more have joined with award-winning author Julia Golding to launch a crowdfunding campaign to save and restore 20 Northmoor Road, the Oxford house in which 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, called Project Northmoor, aims to purchase the house and set up a literary center in honor of Tolkien. McKellen, who earned an Oscar nomination for his role as wizard Gandalf in the 2001 film Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, is helping to gather a new fellowship of funders to purchase the house. The crowdfunding campaign launched today at www.projectnorthmoor.org.

To kick off the project, McKellen and a host of celebrities and others associated with the Tolkien universe have come together for a special video, which you can see below.

Project Northmoor Overview from Brian Boyd on Vimeo.

Appearing 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).

The goal is to raise about $6 million between now and March 15, when the crowdfunding campaign ends. The aim is to include Tolkien fans from around the world to purchase the house and set up a Tolkien center. 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 idea is that the facility and accompanying organization will be financially self-sustaining once established.

It includes a number of backer perks which, if successful, will give fans opportunities ranging 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.

The period house, which is an hour’s drive from London, has remained 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 there for 17 years, during which time JRR Tolkien wrote Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and where he also hosted C.S. Lewis.

"To raise six million dollars in three months is a huge challenge," Golding said in a statement. "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!”

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"We cannot achieve this without the support of the worldwide community of Tolkien fans, our fellowship of funders," added McKellen.

As a charitable venture, the mission of Project Northmoor is to promote Tolkien’s work, allow a diverse range of fantasy writers and artists to come together to write, learn and create, and preserve the 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.