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Statement on Project Northmoor

The Trustees of the Tolkien Society wish to make it clear to Society members, supporters and the public that it is not involved in, or affiliated with, Project Northmoor.

Project Northmoor is a separate company that seeks to purchase Tolkien’s house. About three weeks ago they approached our chair, Shaun Gunner, asking him to take part in a promotional video for their campaign. Shaun asked Project Northmoor for more information about the project and subsequently shared that with all Trustees of the Society.

The Tolkien Society is a 51-year-old charity registered under the law in England and Wales (no. 273809). The Society seeks to educate the public in, and promote research into, the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien. To achieve that, its 2,500 members support its work, including its archive, its publications, its events, its Tolkien and the World project, its blue plaques and memorials, and its bursary. The Society has also supported other organisations such as Sarehole Mill, the Story Museum, and Pembroke College which the Society sees as helping to educate the public about J.R.R. Tolkien’s life and works.

As a leading Tolkien organisation, the Trustees considered whether Project Northmoor would help achieve the Society’s objective to educate the public in, and promote research into, the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien. The Trustees unanimously concluded that it did not.

The Trustees’ specific concerns include that:

  • Project Northmoor’s two-page plan lacked sufficient detail;
  • No prominent members of the Tolkien community – be they writers, academics, artists etc – are directors of the company, or are named as running the project;
  • This would not be a museum and would not be open to the public;
  • Project Northmoor’s primary intention appears to be to run creative workshops, rather than educational programmes about Tolkien;
  • Project Northmoor’s plan includes spiritual retreats, which falls outside the scope of the Society’s objective;
  • Their business model includes running a bed and breakfast, with a full-time resident warden;
  • The property itself is a listed building in a conservation area – with a blue plaque proudly showing its connection to Tolkien – meaning the property is well protected under the law and not in need of rescue;
  • The relationship between the US and UK organisations appeared unclear; and
  • As a new organisation – Project Northmoor having only existed for a month – it is difficult to assess their ability, capability, and capacity to deliver the project successfully.

The Trustees wanted to provide this transparency of their conversation for the benefit of the Tolkien community. The Trustees – as is their legal duty under the law in England and Wales – were considering the best interests of the charity and whether it achieved the charity’s objective. For the above reasons they felt it did not.

Trustees of the Tolkien Society
8 December 2020

About the Author: Shaun Gunner
Shaun is the Chair of The Tolkien Society. First elected in 2013, Shaun has overseen the Society's expansion from 600 to 2,500 members. Shaun regularly speaks about adaptations of Tolkien's works and the future of Tolkien scholarship whilst passionately believing the Society needs to reach out to new audiences. In his spare time he can be found playing video games and Lego, or on Twitter.