The Haywood Society has been awarded almost £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a “J.R.R. Tolkien in Staffordshire” touring exhibition starting this March.
The exhibition will commemorate the centenary of Tolkien’s time in Staffordshire during the First World War.
Second Lieutenant J.R.R. Tolkien of the Lancashire Fusiliers was stationed first at Whittington Heath (near Lichfield), next at a musketry camp at Newcastle-under-Lyme, then at Rugeley and Brocton Camps on Cannock Chase. Tolkien’s new wife Edith moved to live in Great Haywood so she could be close to him shortly after their marriage in March 1916. Tolkien regularly visited Edith in the village until he was posted to France in June 1916.
Tolkien returned to Great Haywood in early December 1916 to recover from his traumatic experiences at the Somme and a serious bout of trench fever. He lived with Edith in a cottage there until late February 1917. It was during this time that he wrote some his first mythological stories, in part inspired by Staffordshire landscapes and experiences.
After a brief posting to East Yorkshire, Tolkien returned to Staffordshire in 1918 and lived in a cottage at Gipsy Green, Teddesley Park (near Penkridge) where other important work was undertaken.
The exhibition will launch at the Museum of Cannock Chase on 7th March 2016 and will remain there until 24th April.
It will then tour the county. The exact plans are yet to be confirmed, but it will probably move to Cannock and Rugeley libraries, the Great Haywood Memorial (5-10 July), and then to other library venues at Codsall, Penkridge, Lichfield, and Stafford.
This has been made possible by an award of £9,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Tolkien Society supported the application. Commenting on the award, project leader David Robbie said: “we are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and welcome the opportunity to tell the largely untold story of ‘Tolkien in Staffordshire’, which will have local, national and international appeal.”
Call for Volunteers
The Haywood Society is calling for volunteers to assist with the tour. To find out more and to volunteer, contact David Robbie on 01889 881794 or at daverobbie38 [at] btinternet [dot] com.