The Tolkien Triangle

You’ve maybe watched the films, read the books or completed both … but have you heard of the Tolkien Triangle here in Yorkshire?

Tolkien’s masterpieces – The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings – were published in the 1930s, most of which were written in the years that followed his service in the army during the First World War.

In 1917, when the conflict was still raging in the battlefields of France, JRR Tolkien arrived in East Yorkshire. 

He was a signalling officer during the Battle of the Somme when he contracted the debilitating condition called trench fever. 

Tolkien Travels to Yorkshire

Aged just 25 years of age, he was sent home to England in late 1916 and came to East Yorkshire in April 1917. Tolkien stayed in the area, with the exception of a few trips away from the county until October 1918.

During his stay in East Yorkshire, he wrote a number of poems, stories and also devised two mythological languages. 

Inspired by the County

The area inspired his writing as he re-used place-names in his work, including Wetwang, which is mentioned in Fellowship of the Ring.

During his time in East Yorkshire, Tolkien also stayed at Brooklands Military Hospital in Hull (now the Dennison Building, University of Hull). There is a blue plaque on the building to commemorate this fact.

Where Did Tolkien Visit?

Tolkien visited many locations within the triangle. Taking the northern-most point, he stayed at Hornsea (Cliff Road; Bank Terrace; Hornsea Musketry Camp). Nearby Roos was also visited by the famous author, with locations including the Old Rectory, Dents Garth, and the Old and New Post Offices. He also stopped at Withernsea (Queen Street) and made it to Easington, Kilnsea (Godwin Battery) and Spurn Point. 

The final point of the triangle is Kingston upon Hull which he visited several locations including his time at Brooklands. 

Why Was Tolkien in Yorkshire?

During his stay in East Yorkshire, Tolkien learned about the problem of coastal erosion and more than likely tried to recover his health. His recovery wasn’t straightforward. In June 2018, he contracted gastritis and his weight plummeted.

Tolkien was eventually sent to Blackpool Savoy Convalescent Hospital, Lancashire in October 2018.

Any Special Things to See?

It is possible to retrace Tolkien’s steps with a trip to all these locations. 

Points of particular interest include the Kilnsey Sound Mirror, sometimes called the Acoustic Mirror, an old-tech version of a radar used during the First World War.

The design of the mirror meant air raids could be detected in advance (though only by a few minutes). Zeppelin raids took place during this time with Hull being a primary target.

The lighthouse at Withernsea still stands proudly as one of the area’s most prominent landmarks, overlooking the most incredible vistas and now a heritage location.

Spurn Point is spectacular with its distant lighthouse and is the most southerly point of the triangle, while Hull forms the final point of the triangle and is a city full of history and heritage. 

Further Trips to Yorkshire

It is thought Tolkien visited Filey in the 1920s and Whitby in 1945. The author is also thought to have visited the outskirts of Scarborough at some point. 

Given the amazing variety of landscapes Yorkshire has to offer, it is safe to say that East Yorkshire certainly inspired his incredible imagination.

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