Did JRR Tolkien write Lord of the Rings in the Cotswolds?
The Lord of the Rings wasn’t entirely based in the Cotswolds. However, the Birmingham-based author JRR Tolkien did visit the Cotswolds often. As a result, real places in the Cotswolds undoubtedly inspired some of the mythical locations in his books.
You can visit some of these locations if you join one of our guided tours!
Tolkien’s connection to the Cotswolds
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in South Africa, but moved to King’s Heath in Birmingham when he was 3 years old. He is one of Birmingham’s most celebrated sons. He also has connections to the city of Oxford, where he was a student at Exeter College and formed his infamous literary circle, The Inklings.
Although Tolkien never lived in the Cotswolds, he had family not far away in the Vale of Evesham, Worcestershire. In fact, Bilbo Baggins’ hobbit house ‘Bag End’ was named after Tolkien’s aunt’s home in the Worcestershire village of Dormston.
From there, Tolkien and his family would take day trips into the Cotswolds, and some of the places they visited inspired his later writing.
Lord of the Rings in the Cotswolds: The Bell Inn, Moreton-in-Marsh
Moreton-in-Marsh is a pretty market town in the northern Cotswolds. As one of the few Cotswold towns with a train station and a direct link to London, Reading and Oxford, it’s also one of the places we can pick you up for our guided tours!
Tolkien also frequented Moreton-in-Marsh, and was particularly fond of a pint of beer in The Bell Inn. The Bell Inn is acknowledged to be Tolkien’s inspiration for The Prancing Pony pub from his books. So much so, that a branch of the Tolkien Society awarded the pub with a blue plaque to commemorate the link.
If you take one of our guided tours, why not stay the night in Moreton-in-Marsh, or at least linger a while before taking the train back to London? Follow in Tolkien’s footsteps by having a beer in The Bell. You’ll easily be able to spot ‘Tolkien’s chair’ – it’s the one right underneath the huge print of Middle Earth on the wall!
Lord of the Rings in the Cotswolds: St. Edward’s Church, Stow-on-the-Wold
On our ‘Cotswolds in a Day‘ tour, we stop for over 1 hour in the market town of Stow-on-the-Wold. This gives you plenty of time to explore the highest town in the Cotswolds, which is a place JRR Tolkien was also fond of visiting. As you can see from the photo, we also showed travel writer and presenter Rick Steves around here!
We’ll never really know, but it’s widely rumoured that the North door to St. Edwards Church inspired Tolkien’s fantasy world. The two ancient yew trees on either side of the door could easily have been the inspiration for the Door of Durin, the gateway to the elven kingdom of Moria. Have a look at this clip from The Lord of the Rings and see what you think!
Lord of the Rings in the Cotswolds: The Red Lion Inn, Chipping Campden
The beautiful town of Chipping Campden is another one of the stops on our Cotswolds in a Day tour. It’s a pristine example of a small working Cotswold town, with medieval architecture, quaint cottages and boutique shops. There is plenty to see and do during your free time here on our tour!
JRR Tolkien liked to visit Chipping Campden too. His personal letters show that he stayed at The Red Lion Inn many times with his son Michael. He also signed a copy of The Lord of the Rings for the pub’s landlord back in the 1950s.
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