Lancashire tourist chiefs are bracing themselves for an influx of Tolkien fans as long-awaited film, ‘The Hobbit’ hits cinemas this weekend.
J.R.R Tolkien’s son John, who was studying for the priesthood, was evacuated from Rome to Stonyhurst College in Lancashire during the Second World Ward and it is belived the countryside which encompasses the stunning Ribble Valley and Forest of Bowland areas were Tolkien’s influence for Middle Earth - the setting for the novel.
J.R.R Tolkien, his wife and other children regularly stayed at a guest house in the grounds of Stonyhurst College during this time and is believedhe worked on the Lord of the Rings in a classroom on the upper gallery of the college.
A number of names which occur in The Lord of the Rings are similar to those found locally, including Shire Lane in the village of Hurst Green and the River Shirebourn which is similar to the name of the family which built Stonyhurst.
Anna Izza, Communications Manager at Marketing Lancashire said: The effects of the film in terms of tourism are likely to be felt throughout the coming year.
It is perhaps a little too soon to speculate how much this will impact but with another two films in the trilogy yet to come, we hope this first film will kickstart renewed interest in Lancashire as inspiration for The Shire.”
Marketing Lancashire’s visitor website www.visitlancashire.com has sections dedicated to Lancashire’s literary links and includes information about the Tolkien Trail and J.R.R Tolkien’s association with Stonyhurst College.
Readers can also download a copy of the Tolkien Trail, a five and a half mile circular walk starting and finishing at Hurst Green, from the website to follow in the footsteps of the curious Bilbo Baggins.
Anna said: “Reward yourself with lunch fit for a Hobbit at The Shireburn Arms at Hurst Green and the start and finish of the trail.
“For those familiar with the book, Hobbit’s would eat six meals a day if they could, with their preferences being two breakfasts as well as plenty of ale, meat, tea, bread, and cake.”