If you’re a fan of the Lord of the Rings, then Sidmouth should definitely be on your staycation bucket list once we’re allowed to travel once again. Not only is it a beautiful place, but it is also the site of J R R Tolkien’s holiday home and is also where it is said he wrote many of the famous passages we know and love from his epic, The Lord of the Rings. We can’t guarantee that you’ll encounter any wizards or join an adventurous band of hobbits, but you will get a chance to experience the same scenery that inspired one of Britain’s biggest and best loved fantasy stories.
Though you might be well aware of Tolkien’s connections with Oxford, you might not know that the Jurassic Coast was a firm favourite of his, particularly as a place to spend the summer holidays. One such place was Kennaway House in Sidmouth, a spot that is marked with one of the town’s historic blue plaques. He was also known to frequent the Belmont Hotel – both great places to visit for Ringers or just plain old bibliophiles!
According to Tolkien’s biographers, he was struggling a little with writer’s block during the writing on the first book in the trilogy, the Fellowship of the Ring, but while on a family holiday with his children, managed to find time to sit down and write, working many of the things he saw into his stories. It is thought that a visit to a local pub where he saw someone smoking in the corner helped inspire the introduction to the character Aragon and that the cliffs of the Jurassic Coast helped him visualise some of the terrain that Frodo and his band of travellers had to traverse on their mission.
Interested in finding out more about Sidmouth’s literary connections? Make sure to follow the Blue Plaque Trail around the town and pay a visit to the town’s museum where you can pick up books celebrating the various authors that have been inspired by Sidmouth. Just remember – don’t visit until it is safe to do so! You can keep up to date with the latest government guidelines and travel restrictions on the government’s website, gov.uk/coronavirus.