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“Cottage of Lost Play” up for sale
Rock Cottage and its three fireplaces is thought to have inspired the Cottage of Lost Play. Photo credit: Michael Flowers

Rock Cottage – thought to be a possible inspiration for the Cottage of Lost Play – in the Staffordshire village of Great Haywood has gone on sale for an asking price of £375,000.

There is no irrefutable proof that Tolkien and his wife Edith lived at the property, but local historian and Tolkien Society member David Robbie has suggested that circumstantial and literary evidence points in that direction.

Tolkien is known to have resided in Great Haywood from early December 1916 until 23 February 1917 (100 years ago tomorrow), following his traumatic experiences at the Battle of the Somme and contraction of trench fever.

It was around this time that Tolkien wrote “The Cottage of Lost Play”, which – like Rock Cottage – had three fireplaces and was adjacent to a line of Yew trees.

An exhibition commemorating Tolkien’s time in Staffordshire during the First World War – now at Stafford Library – will close on Monday 27 February.

About the Author: Daniel Helen

Daniel is an Officer without Portfolio and Trustee of The Tolkien Society. Elected in 2014, he is mainly responsible for the Society’s digital operations, including this website.

  • TroelsForchhammer

    Tolkien wrote the poem, You and Me and the Cottage of Lost Play in April 1915.
    Edith moved to Great Haywood in April 1916, and the claimed (the claim appears to not be as solid as one could wish) inabitation of Rock Cottage would be the winter of 1916-17 – more than a year and a half after the invention of the Cottage of Lost Play.

    And identifying Rock Cottage with the cottage that Eriol visits in The Book of Lost Tales would go directly against the way Tolkien used English geography at that time in his legendarium. That cottage is in Kortirion, which is identified as Warwick, so any specific inspiration would also have to be in Warwick, not Staffordshire.

    All in all, it would seem that it is highly likely that the Tolkiens did live in Rock Cottage, but very unlikely that this is the inspiration for the Cottage of Lost Play.