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Tolkien's links to Lancashire
Did J R R Tolkien's visits to Lancashire inspire him when he was creating The Shire?
It was whilst J R R Tolkien spent time at Stonyhurst College in the Ribble Valley that he penned the long awaited follow up to The Hobbit.
Jonathan Hewat from St Mary's Hall School at Stonyhurst College says: "Some of the most dramatic and vivid chapters were written during the war years - from Gandalf's fall into darkness in Moria, written in 1941, to the long, painful journey of Frodo and Sam into Moria, which occupied much of 1944."
During these years, Tolkien visited his eldest son, John, who was studying for the priesthood. John had been evacuated with the English College in Rome, to the Jesuit seminary at St Mary's Hall, which is now the preparatory school for Stonyhurst College.
Tolkien's name appears in the Stonyhurst College visitors' book many times, along with that of his wife, daughter and sons.
Jonathan says: "Tolkien was renowned for his love of nature and wooded landscapes and the countryside around Stonyhurst College and St Mary's Hall is richly beautiful. The area is dotted with names that are familiar from The Lord of the Rings - Shire Lane in Hurst Green, for instance, or the River Shirebourn. Perhaps named after the Shireburn Family who had built Stonyhurst and owned the estate in the 16th and 17th centuries. The green countryside is dominated by the dark shape of Pendle Hill, famous for its association with witches, sorcery and black magic in the 16th century - surely inspiration for Middle Earth's Misty Mountains or The Lonely Mountain?"
But the Tolkien family link with Stonyhurst College does not end there.
Another of Tolkien's sons, Michael, taught Classics at Stonyhurst College and St Mary's Hall in the late 1960's to the early 1970's. Tolkien's love of trees continued throughout his life and he persuaded his son, Michael, to plant a copse in the garden, evidence of which can still be seen today.
last updated: 18/03/2008 at 08:34
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m . j stockton