The Hobbit author JRR Tolkien link to Newcastle found in graveyard

A LITTLE piece of Hobbit history was discovered in the North East.

The Hobbit author JRR Tolkien and the grave of his aunt, Grace
The Hobbit author JRR Tolkien and the grave of his aunt, Grace

A LITTLE piece of Hobbit history was discovered in the North East.

In the month the new film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is released, it is Tyneside that holds a special Tolkien secret.

The first of the three fantasy-adventure films directed, co-written and produced by Peter Jackson is based on JRR Tolkien’s fantasy novel from 1937.

The author had strong links to Newcastle, and the dedicated team renovating graves in Jesmond Old Cemetery in Newcastle uncovered a secret about him.

They discovered his aunt Grace Tolkien lived in Jesmond and is buried in the cemetery.

The Friends of Jesmond Old Cemetery found Tolkien regularly visited Grace.

Tolkien is also said to have based Saruman on Grace’s husband – Tolkien’s uncle William Charles Mountain, who was the vice-president of the North East Institute of Mining.

Led by Ray Hayes, the Friends of Jesmond Old Cemetery started their mission almost five years ago to restore the abandoned graves of the region’s most prominent figures.

But this find was a one that got them talking.

Ray, 52, of Fenham, Newcastle, said: “It was over two years ago when we pulled back the brambles and found the grave of JRR Tolkien aunt’s grave.

“She lived in Jesmond and was buried in Jesmond Old Cemetery in 1947, along with her husband who died in 1928.

“It was an uncovered gem that we discovered, we found it by pure accident.

“But how thrilled we were when we found it. It would be nice for people who see the new film or read the books to come and see a little piece of Tolkien’s history linked to Newcastle. The books and films are atmospheric and the graveyard is also an atmospheric place. It’s quite romantic to link the them.”

Grace Tolkien is not the only notable figure to be buried in Jesmond Cemetery.

Also buried in the graveyard is John Dobson, one of the architects who helped to transform Richard Grainger’s vision into reality.

So are the forefathers of Fenwick, Bainbridges and Pumphreys, the Hancocks, art gallery founder Alexander Laing, former 19th-Century Newcastle mayor and MP Archibald Reed and socialist Thomas Burt, the first working-class MP in 1874.

The Hobbit movie also has a North East link – the poster for the film used part of Northumberland as a backdrop.

The image shows Gandalf striding through the Shire – but it is in fact Corby Crag, towards the Simonside Hills.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer