Tolkien's home: 20 Northmoor Rd, Oxford
Suburban House Where JRR Tolkien Wrote the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Is Listed by Heritage Minister Andrew Mcintosh
DEPARTMENT FOR CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT News Release (152¼04) issued by the Government News Network on 23 November 2004
A comfortable 1920s eight bedroom house in the suburbs of Oxford is to become a Grade II listed building, Heritage Minister Andrew McIntosh announced today.
Despite having no special architectural qualities, the house is to get the extra protection from alteration or demolition that listed building status confers, because of its historical importance.
For it was there – between 1930 and 1947 – that Prof. JRR Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and virtually all of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, recently voted the ’most popular book in Britain’ in a BBC survey.
Andrew McIntosh said:
“Buildings are usually listed because of their fine architecture or unique design. 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.
“The house is largely unaltered since Tolkien’s time, with original doors, doorhandles and ornate window catches. As such it is an important part of our national heritage, and worthy of the additional layer of protection that listing brings.”
Notes to Editors
1. The house – at 20 Northmoor Road, Oxford – was built in 1924 by Fred Openshaw, a local architect, for Basil Blackwell, the owner of Oxford’s famours bookshop. JRR Tolkien lived in the house from 1930 to 1947 and is known to have written The Hobbit and most of The Lord of the Rings trilogy in the drawing room. The interior plan, as well as numerous features, survives unaltered except for the removal of a wall between the former study and drawing room (by Prof. Tolkien) in order to increase the size of his study, presumably to accommodate the increasing number of reference books required to write his work. The main purpose of listing a building is to ensure that care will be taken over decisions affecting its future, that any alterations respect the particular character and interest of the building, and that the case for its preservation is taken fully into account in considering the merits of any redevelopment proposals. The listing covers the whole of the building. Any significant changes to exterior, interior or within the curtilage of the building would require listed building consent. The listing is not restricted to features mentioned in the list description.
2. The criteria for listing are set out in Section 6 of Planning Policy Guidance Note 15: Planning and the Historic Environment (PPG15). This can be found on this web page: http://www.odpm.gov.uk/stellent/groups/odpm–planning/documents/page/odpm–plan–606900.hcsp
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