Many areas of the UK claim to have inspired JRR Tolkien’s creation of middle earth but the author certainly spent much of his time at Stonyhurst College whilst he was working on Lord of The Rings during the Second World War.

Many have found connections with the landscape around Stonyhurst and a number of names which occur in The Lord of the Rings are similar to those found locally. The five and a half mile Tolkien Trail explores the Ribble landscape that may have inspired him, starting and fi nishing at the Shireburn Arms in Hurst Green. Stay for the night or call in for a pint, though we can’t promise you’ll find the Hobbit’s favourite, Barliman’s Best, on tap. Some say that the Shireburn name (local landowners) may have influenced the naming of the River Shirebourn in Lord of the Rings. Whatever the connection this historic 17th century inn is now a welcoming gastro pub, with stylish rooms and is also dog friendly so they get to explore ‘the shire’ as well.

Also linked to Stonyhurst College is Victorian crime writer Arthur Conan Doyle who was a student from September 1868. The dramatic college building is said to have inspired some of the locations in his Sherlock Holmes novel The Hound of the Baskervilles. Most notably as Baskerville House is described just like the West Front at Stonyhurst, mullioned windows, a central block with ‘twin towers, ancient, crenelated’, and ‘to right and left more modern wings’. Records show that a boy named Moriarty was also at Stonyhurst at the same time as Doyle so he may have drawn on his school years for other inspiration.


Stonyhurst College
Historic House
Stonyhurst College

One of the largest buildings in the North West. This magnificent 16thC manor house is home to a famous Catholic co-educational independent boarding and day school. Tours include dormitories, library, chapels and school rooms.

Shireburn Arms
Shireburn Arms

The Shireburn Arms is a historic 17th Century inn of great warmth and character, at the heart of the Ribble Valley, and home to the Tolkien Trail. Located in Hurst Green, it is a stone’s throw from Stonyhurst College, and boasts far reaching views.



  1. Jode45
    Reading, the gateway to worlds unknown, is a timeless voyage of imagination and knowledge. This essay explores the profound impact of reading, from its historical roots to its modern adaptations. It delves into diverse genres, the cognitive benefits of reading, and the enduring power of literature to shape perspectives, cultivate empathy, and enrich the human experience.

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