Bournemouth Off The Beaten Path Tips by ettiewyn Top 5 Page for this destination

Bournemouth Off The Beaten Path: 15 reviews and 41 photos

4 more images
Beren House & Luthien House - Bournemouth
Beren House & Luthien House

One major reason for me to travel to Bournemouth was that it has a strong Tolkien connection. J.R.R. Tolkien and his wife holidayed in Bournemouth for about twenty-years, before they finally bought a bungalow to have a permanent home here, after Tolkien had retired from his professor's chair in Oxford. Strictly speaking, the house was located in Poole and not in Bournemouth, but Tolkien himself always referred to it as Bournemouth as it is located just at the edges of Poole, and I don't want to build a separate Poole page just because of this one tip.

As I said, the Tolkiens had been enjoying holidays in Bournemouth for many years before they finally decided to move there for good in 1968. The circumstances were rather traumatic for Tolkien, though. Tolkien had fallen in his home in 76 Sandfield Road, Oxford and what happened afterwards was quite difficult for him, as he describes in a letter to his son Michael in October 1968:


My bedroom-study at 76 was full of papers and half written works - which I knew where to lay my hand. I ran downstairs on the afternoon of June 17 and fell. I was picked off the floor of the hall and transported to the Nuffield [Orthopaedic Centre] as I was and never went back again - never saw my room, or my house, again. In addition to the shock of the fall and the operation, this has had a queer effect. It is like reading a story and coming to a sudden break (where a chapter or two are mssing): complete change of scene. For a long time I felt that I was in a (bad) dream and should wake up perhaps and find myself back in my old room.

The house of the Tolkiens was located in 19 Lakeside Road, close to Alum Chine and the road leading straight to the beach. It was very interesting to walk down the road and to see how calm and green it is, and in such a beautiful location. I think it is easy to imagine that it must have been a huge change to live here, after having spent decades in the bustling world of Oxford University. It was a new life for the elderly couple, also because they had central heating for the first time in their lives and other new luxuries, although altogether they still enjoyed a simple lifestyle. The garage was converted into a study where Tolkien could work and write in piece, without being disturbed by numerous phone calls or admirers knocking at the door.

Tolkien sold the house and moved back to Oxford after the death of his wife in 1971. In 2008, a small scandal happened when it became known that the bungalow in 19 Lakeside Road was to be torn down. Many fans wanted to prevent it, but it was done. The local proprietor knew that it was the former house of J.R.R. Tolkien, and when he started to clear the house (which had only had one different owner in the meantime), he found an old postcard stuck behind the fireplace. It was written to Tolkien in July 1968 by author Lin Carter and the find caused a sensation. The proprietor also found some stone statues of lions and griffins, and everything together was auctioned off for more than half a million pounds.

The bungalow was indeed torn down and I had only read that it was replaced by two family homes. I did not expect to find anything that reminded of Tolkien when I walked down Lakeside Road, and just enjoyed seeing the location of the beautiful street. Can you imagine my surprise and joy when I found no 19 and discovered that the new houses bore the names Beren House and Luthien House?

Beren and Luthien are two of Tolkien's most important heroes, a couple loving each other so much that they defeat evil and death itself, as told in the Silmarillion. It is a wonderful story and one Tolkien loved very much. When his wife died, the name Luthien was written on her gravestone in Oxford under her name and dates. A few months after her death, he wrote to Michael:


[...]I met the Lúthien Tinuviel of my own personal 'romance' with her long dark hair, fair face and starry eyes, and beautiful voice. And in 1934 she was still with me, and her beautiful children. But now she has gone before Beren, leaving him indeed one-handed, but he has no power to move the inexorable Mandos, and there is no Dor Gyrth i chuinar, the Land of the Dead that Live, in this Fallen Kingdom of Arda, where the servants of Mordor are worshipped...

When Tolkien died and was buried in the same grave, the name Beren was written under his name and dates.
I think it is such a wonderful gesture to name the two new houses like this, as a remembrancer of this extraordinary and loving couple.


Sources:
Carpenter, Humphrey (ed.). The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company 2000.
Langton, Andrew: Bournemouth's Founders and Famous Visitors. Brimscombe: The History Press 2010.
Scull, Christina, Wayne G. Hammond. The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide. Chronology. London: HarperCollins Publishers 2006.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/7495446.stm [retrieved on 27/05/2012]

Review Helpfulness: 5 out of 5 stars

Was this review helpful?

  • Updated May 27, 2012
  • Send to a Friend
  • Report Abuse
2 more images
- Bournemouth
Hotel Miramar

During my stay in Bournemouth, I of course looked for the hotel where the Tolkiens used to stay over many years. It is the Hotel Miramar, located at the East Cliff, a beautiful location nearly overlooking the sea and close to a ZigZag Way, so that you can be on the beach within a few minutes.

I went looking for the hotel during my first afternoon in Bournemouth, and did not expect to find it so quickly - it is very easy to find because of its good location. It was a very strange feeling to finally be here and to stand in front of this hotel. I had read about it so often and could hardly believe that I was here now. I always have this strange, unreal feeling when I finally visit a place I have dreamed about for long.
As this is still a working hotel, I of course respected the privacy of the guests and only stood in front of the main gate and took a picture of the building and a sign. I could distinguish a memorial plaque at the wall of the building and am sure that this must a plaque dedicated to Tolkien that I have read about, but I did not walk closer because as I said, it is still a working hotel.
Maybe one day I will return to Bournemouth, stay in the Miramar and have a closer look at the plaque ! :-) It really looks like a beautiful hotel, and it is not even that expensive, so it might well be that I will really do this one day in the future.

Tolkien went to Bournemouth for the first time in 1913, aged twenty one, when he worked as a kind of male nanny for three Mexican boys and accompanied them on their holidays.
His wife, Edith Tolkien, started to go on holiday in Bournemouth in 1952, and from the mid-1950 the couple frequently spent some weeks in the Hotel Miramar. The reason mainly seems to be that Edith enjoyed it very much - on the one hand it was very good for her deteriorating health, on the other hand she very much enjoyed the atmosphere in Bournemouth where she was among people who were like her. In Oxford, she was often a little lonely because she was excluded from the academic cycles in which her husband engaged, but in Bournemouth she was among her own class of retired British people and enjoyed their company a lot. It seems as if Tolkien enjoyed staying in Bournemouth as well, but maybe not as much as Edith, because he missed his university friends, and being away from Oxford made dealing with university tasks, his publishers and other things connected to his writing much more difficult and often added further delay to his projects. Sometimes he found dealing with other people in Bournemouth quite tiring, as can be read in this letter that he wrote to his son Michael on the 16th October 1963:

I have had three rather exhausting experiences since Monday. On Monday I visited an 'admirer' who wrote to me & proved to be living nearly next door to this hotel. But she also proved to be stone-deaf (inoperable & incurable), though highly intelligent & well-read. [...] Yesterday in the middle of lunch I had to rescue an old lady (staying with us) who was choking with a whiting-bone, and get her to a doctor. Then in the afternoon another deaf old lady! Almost the last of the children of the great Sir James Augustus Henry Murray of the Dictionary. (His living descendants are now more than 100.) She is on mother's side a Ruthven and has been researching for years into the Gowrie conspiracy. As my knowledge of Scottish History is v. small I find it difficult to follow who murdered whom, or why - the general trend of Scots history. I hope you can read this! I cannot write decently without a proper table or with a ball point.

The Tolkiens nearly always stayed in the Hotel Miramar when they were in Bournemouth, and it indeed was their "second home" until they finally moved to their own new home in Poole in 1968.
After Edith had died in 1971, Tolkien moved back to Oxford (now nearly eighty years old). He only went back to Bournemouth a couple of times and when he visited the Miramar once again, he recalled this in a very moving letter to his daughter Priscilla, written on 29th August 1973.


My dear Prisca,
I arrived in B'th. about 3.15 yesterday, [...] They dropped me on the East Overcliff by the Miramar which nostalgically attracted me; but I went into the town & did some shopping, including having a hair trim. I then walked back to the Miramar at 4.45 - and things began to go wrong. I was told Causier had called to find me about 4 p.m. which made me afraid that he was in difficulties. I also found that I had lost my Bank Card and some money. 'Reception' were surprised but welcoming, comforted me with a good tea. Also assuming that I had been looking for something more than a tea, they told me they could have done nothing at all for me, but for a cancellation which would allow them to take me in on Tuesday Sep. 4 - but I said I would see. [...] So all was well, for the present. But I have accepted the
Miramar offer, and shall not return to Oxford till Sep. 11. For various reasons: the chief being I wish to give Carr plenty of time to clean my rooms, which, and I too, were much neglected latterly; I wish v. much to visit various people here, also Chris Wiseman at Milford, and I am old enough to much prefer familiar surroundings.
My dearest love to you.
Daddy.
It is stuffy, sticky, and rainy here at present - but forecasts are more favorable.


This is the last letter which was written by Tolkien - he was taken to hospital two days later because of an acute bleeding gastric ulcer, developed a chest infection and died in Bournemouth on the 6th of September.

Sources:
Carpenter, Humphrey (ed.). The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company 2000.
Scull, Christina, Wayne G. Hammond. The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide. Chronology. London: HarperCollins Publishers 2006.

Website: http://www.miramar-bournemouth.com/

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Was this review helpful?

  • Updated May 27, 2012
  • Send to a Friend
  • Report Abuse
2 more images
- Bournemouth
Alum Chine

Alum Chine is a big park in the western part of Bournemouth. I wondered about the name chine and later read that this was the expression for the original heathland that covered this area until the end of the 18th century, before the town of Bournemouth was founded. Until Sir John William Tapps-Gervis and his father decided to build a town here, there was simply a wilderness of heathland, small woods and sandy tracks leading through them, with only a couple of houses and a few smugglers travelling through.

Alum Chine is now the name of a section of the beach, but also of the big chunks of wood in the town. The park starts right behind the beach, and it really looks wild. I heard many birds singing, and with the sunshine and warm weather it felt rather exotic! It was very nice to stroll around here and enjoy the unusual landscape. I have no idea, though, if it comes close to the original chine, or if it was created later.

Surprisingly, I later found out that Alum Chine has a connection with Sir Winston Churchill who nearly came to an early death here! Every winter, he, his mother and his brother went to Bournemouth to stay with an aunt who owned a villa near Alum Chine. Different parts of the chine were in those days connected by huge bridges (that don't exist anymore today). On 10th January 1893, being eighteen years old, Churchill played running games with his brother and a cousin and found himself trapped on the bridge, one boy waiting for him on either side. He decided to leap off the bridge and break his fall by catching the branches of some nearby trees. Unfortunately this didn't work and it was three days before he regained consciousness, and three months before he could leave his bed!


Address: Between Alumhurst Road and Alum Chine Road
Directions: Eastbourne

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Was this review helpful?

  • Updated May 26, 2012
  • Send to a Friend
  • Report Abuse
4 more images
Church of the Sacred Heart - Bournemouth
Church of the Sacred Heart

The Church of the Sacred Heart is Bournemouth's catholic church, located in the town centre on Richmond Hill. A chapel was constructed here in 1870, which was already enlarged three years later and finished in 1875. Neo-norman as well as neo-gothic influences can be seen. The church was enlarged another time in the 1900s, and it received a ring of bells in 1983 to mark the visit of Pope John Paul II to England.

I liked the church, but I must admit that it was very dark and I personally like it better if there is more light in a church, to create a more positive atmosphere :-)

While J.R.R. Tolkien and his wife Edith stayed in Bournemouth, they worshipped in this church, and after Edith's death in 1971, a memorial service was held here.
I also found a blue plaque at a wall of the church, giving information about Lady Georgiana Fullerton. She was a nineteenth-century woman writer and founded a school in Bournemouth which still exists today. She converted to Catholicism in 1846 and worshipped in the Church of the Sacred Heart.


Address: Albert Road
Directions: Opposite of the Norfolk Royale, close to the gardens

Phone: 01202 551013

Website: http://sac-heart.org/

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Was this review helpful?

  • Updated May 15, 2012
  • Send to a Friend
  • Report Abuse
2 more images
The Villas - Norfolk Royale - Bournemouth
The Villas - Norfolk Royale

Opposite of The Church of the Sacred Heart, I found an interesting, historical looking building that also had a memorial plaque.

The building was constructed from 1840 to 1850 and originally there were two villas, constructed by Sir George Williams Tapps-Gervis who is considered to be the founder of Bournemouth. His father acquired a huge patch of land here in 1805, when it was just a huge wilderness with a few huts and small buildings. About thirty years later, after the death of his father, Tapps-Gervis decided to build a village where there was now only an estate, and he employed an architect to plan and develop it. The two villas were a part of this phase of construction.
They were joint in 1870 and became the Stewart's Hotel, and in 1910 the Norfolk Hotel because the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk chose it as their favourite summer lodgings. Since 1988, it is the Norfolk Royale, a four star hotel - the Dukes of Norfolk are still attached to it and the memorial plaque was unveiled by the 17th Duke of Norfolk.

I thought that the building looked very pretty and provided a glimpse of what Bournemouth must have been like when it became a fashionable resort in the 19th century and the following decades. Especially the verandah is very beautiful.

Website: http://www.peelhotels.co.uk/hotels/norfolk-royale-hotel-bournemouth-dorset-england/

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Was this review helpful?

  • Updated May 15, 2012
  • Send to a Friend
  • Report Abuse

ettiewyn

“Happy as a frog on a tap :-)”

Online Now

Female

Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 2 7 4
Forum Rank:
0 0 3 8 8

Badges & Stats in Bournemouth

  • 24 Reviews
  • 75 Photos
  • 0 Forum posts
  • 8 Comments
  • 1,344PageViews

Have you been to Bournemouth?

  Share Your Travels  

Photos in Bournemouth

See All Photos (75)

Travel Interests

See All Travel Interests (13)

Top 6 Bournemouth Things to Do