One room to bind them all – how to stay in the real-life inspiration for Middle-Earth and Narnia

One room to bind them all – how to stay in the real-life inspiration for Middle-Earth and Narnia

Both J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and C.S. Lewis, writer of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, were Oxford University professors. A leading expert says visitors can stay in the colleges where they once lived and worked and see the real-life places that inspired Bree, Mordor and Narnia.

Oxford, United Kingdom, 2024-Jul-4 — /Travel PR News/ — Hobbit lovers and fans of the magical world of Narnia can now stay in some of the Oxford colleges where the famous authors of The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia spent much of their lives. The city is also the home of many places that inspired some of the most famous scenes in literature.

Lily Smith, a travel expert from the specialist accommodation finder, says: ‘J.R.R. Tolkien was a student at Exeter College, Oxford, and later became a professor at Pembroke and then Merton College in the city. C.S. Lewis was a student at University College and then became a professor at Magdalen College, which many people (including Lewis) claim is the most beautiful college in Oxford.

‘Magdalen is one of a number of historic Oxford colleges where it’s possible to book rooms throughout the long summer (and Easter) vacations. From his rooms, Lewis could see the River Cherwell and the famous deer park.

‘The old buildings at Magdalen College (which visitors should be aware is pronounced Maudlin!) date back as far as the 15th century. Visitors can have breakfast in the hall where Lewis ate and enjoy the college’s gardens and tearoom.

‘People on a tight budget can also stay at Magdalen’s Waynflete Building, just across Magdalen Bridge, from just £55 a night. It offers stunning views of the college.

‘Both Tolkien and Lewis were members of a famous literary club called the Inklings, which met in local pubs such as the Eagle and Child on St Giles Street. Here they eagerly discussed their new works in a snug known as the Rabbit Room. Sadly, the Eagle and Child is closed for refurbishment this summer but, across the road, The Lamb and Flag was another favourite meeting place. This pub dates back over 450 years but closed down in 2022. Happily, it has now been reopened by a community interest group who have named themselves The Inklings after the famous club.

‘Oxford also inspired many favourite locations in both Middle-Earth and Narnia. Radcliffe Camera, which is actually a library, is one of Oxford’s most spectacular buildings. It is widely believed that Tolkien used this building as the basis of Sauron’s temple to Morgoth on Nümenor.

‘Looking at the sagging 14th-century timbers of Laird Hatters at 28 Cornmarket Street (on the corner of Ship Street), it’s not hard to imagine the buildings in Bree, while the towering Hornbeam tree in Tolkien’s beloved Botanical Gardens is said to have inspired Quickbeam, one of the Ents from Fangorn Forest.

‘Even amid the busy modern streets of Oxford, it is not hard to find traces of the magical world of Narnia as well. C.S. Lewis once left St. Mary’s Church (just off the High Street) into St Mary’s Passage. Pausing to brace himself against the cold, he noticed a door that leads into Brasenose College. This door is thought to have inspired a number of the characters in his most famous novel, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

‘The door centrepiece features a carved face that resembles Aslan, while the door frame is flanked by fauns that are believed to have given him the idea for Mr Tumnus.

‘Just ahead to the right, at the entrance to Radcliffe Square and the Camera (Tolkien’s temple to Morgoth), stands a solitary lamppost. It is widely believed to be the actual one that Lewis had in mind marking the entrance to the magical kingdom of Narnia. Lucy and her family must find it to return home through the wardrobe.

‘Christ Church College is as atmospheric as Magdalen College, and full of ancient passageways that echo parts of the castles of Middle-Earth and Narnia. It also has many literary connections of its own, as it features in the first Harry Potter movie and Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. Bookings for rooms at Christ Church are filling rapidly for July and August, but there is still good availability in September. now offers an availability update service.

‘Christ Church College also offers accommodation at St Aldgate and at its Liddell Building. Visitors still have access to the main college buildings and the option of breakfast in The Great Hall, which provided the Harry Potter movies with the design for the dining hall. This summer, you can book a room in the Liddell Building from just £65 a night.

‘Using the innovative service, visitors can choose from singles and doubles with ensuite facilities, on a B&B or self-catering basis. One thing to consider is that a few universities have a no under-18s rule, so double-check the campus’ page for details. For more information on staying in Oxford, see