Page last updated at 09:35 GMT, Tuesday, 1 April 2008 10:35 UK

'Tolkien tower' opens to public

Perrott's Folly
Landowner John Perrott built the folly in 1758, possibly as a hunting lodge

A tower thought to have inspired one of JRR Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings books has opened its doors to the public for the first time in two decades.

Perrott's Folly, a 96ft (29m) high tower in Edgbaston, Birmingham, is hosting a two week art exhibition.

The 250-year-old monument is thought to have been the inspiration behind some of the imagery in The Two Towers.

In Peter Jackson's adaptation, the two towers refer to Saruman's Orthanc and Sauron's tower of Barad-dur.

Tolkien's illustrations of Orthanc are said to be based on Perrott's Folly's windows while the second monument that influenced him is believed to be the Edgbaston water tower.

Hunting lodge

The author lived near both towers while growing up in the city.

Presently undergoing a 100,000 restoration, Perrott's Folly will also be open to visitors as part of a weekend of Tolkien celebrations starting on 17 May.

Visitors will climb its long spiral staircase to see German artist Jurgen Partenheimer's sculptures displayed in six rooms, accompanied by music.

Landowner John Perrott built the folly in 1758, possibly as an elaborate hunting lodge for his friends.

The tower was taken over as a weather centre in the late 19th Century and was owned by the University of Birmingham until the meteorology equipment was moved out in 1979.

It is now run by the Perrott's Folly Company, which is overseeing the restoration work.

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