A Tolkien trip to Oxford

A Tolkien trip to Oxford

As most of you know I have been traveling in England the past week, so I thought to revisit Oxford and get some shiny pictures of the wonderful views and atmosphere that helped create Middle Earth.

Oxford is a distinguished city. It boasts a rich history and centenary buildings that have sheltered academics and researches throughout most of modern history. It is also surrounded by beautiful green vistas that any Tolkien fan would identify as the Shire xD

So, before our little tour, some trivia for those of you missing some detail:

    • J.R.R Tolkien was born in South Africa and lost his parents at an early age, but his mother’s homeschooling included Latin, botany and art, which along with his love for the countryside and disdain for the industrial city he was made to move into were clear influences in his “good rural vs evil industry” Saruman theme.
    • When still young, a Baboon Spider bit him and is said to have inspired the giant spiders such as Shellob. (Tolkien claimed to have no particular fear of spiders as an adult.
    • He fell in love with a girl but was forbidden from talking to her until he was of the age of 21. Two years passed and he returned to ask her for marriage, making her break off another engagement. This is said to have inspired the forbidden romances in the books.

 


 

Pembroke College

The Tour

I started my visits at Pembroke College, where Tolkien taught Anglo-Saxon

 

Inside this building, The Hobbit and the first two volumes of LoTR were written. The College is closed to the public but, as all other Oxford Colleges, allows visits to members and public can stop by the Chapel.

Forum Image

I also visited Merton College, where Tolkien served as Professor of English Language and Literature

 

It is said that the grounds of this college, which feature stone tables and benches with hexagonal shapes, inspired the author’s designs of Middle Earth, as he could be found sitting, writing and pondering in the gardens.

University College
 

 

Tolkien’s stories started out as narrations for his children, which prompted him to realize his gift for storytelling and seek fellow literate enthusiasts who would share his love for writing and reading. Tolkien joined The Inklings, a group of scholars devoted to literature and fine Ale created by a undergraduate of the University College:

 

 

 

 

 


 

The Inklings

The Inklings would gather at the Bird and Baby Public House, now renamed to Eagle and Child.

Eagle and Child Pub Gallery”

It was in these very rooms that The Lord of The Rings was first read, and it was wonderful to be able to see the pub working and retaining its very low key approach to its fame. I saw several Tolkien fans enjoying meals at the spot and quietly commenting on the significance of the pub. Had the group not existed, we may have never read these amazing works. There are several other places that have hints for the Tolkien fan: the White Horse pub, clearly inspiration to the Prancing Pony; Wayland’s Smithy, the starting point of the Barrow Downs; and Uffington’s White Horse, akin to Rohan’s banner. I certainly recommend the tour for anyone planning a visit to England.


 

Forum Image

Wolvercotte

My last stop was in North Oxford, Wolvercotte. Tolkien spent a long time here and the local cementery houses his grave.

I found it a very modest grave, almost too simple to keep the remains of a man we all owe such a big thank you to. I was of course very moved to see the connection between Middle Earth and his life. For any of you who do not know, the famous Silmarillion scene in which Beren, a mortal man, falls in love with the beautiful elvish maiden Luthien was inpired by Edith’s dancing and singing amongst woods for Tolkien.

I also found the mini gandalf gift very appropriate to this humble and clearly intimate grave

 

Hope you all enjoyed the tour!

Fex

For more of our gamer travel adventures check out the Travel section of Fextralife!

Avatar

MMO raider by day and guide writer by night, Fex enjoys multiplatform gaming, good books and animes, and streaming with a cold beer.

View my other posts

3 comments on “A Tolkien trip to Oxford”

  1. MisfitLantern says:

    Fantastic article Fex! Very informative and a fun read!

  2. Tim says:

    I enjoyed it very much. Hopefully we can get there some day. I love the architecture of those buildings.

    Thanks Fex!

  3. Mr. Tart says:

    Gotta love Tolkien. I actually wrote two articles about him, one in swedish, one in english as school assignments before summer began. It’s a shame I wasn’t as big a fan of Tolkien and aware of this tour in 2009, when me and my mother stopped through England as we were heading for Scotland. Great article!

Leave a Reply