Couple’s Hobbit hole plans in trouble with Tolkien brand defenders

The owners of West Stow Pods, Jan and Ed Lengyel, have encountered resistance from Warner Bros and Middle Earth Enterprises to their plans to build a new pod, the Poddit Hole, which is styled on a Hobbit hole. ANL-150508-065306009
The owners of West Stow Pods, Jan and Ed Lengyel, have encountered resistance from Warner Bros and Middle Earth Enterprises to their plans to build a new pod, the Poddit Hole, which is styled on a Hobbit hole. ANL-150508-065306009

A West Suffolk couple who are planning to build a habitable Hobbit hole at their campsite are under fire from the defenders of the Tolkien brand.

Jan Lengyel and his wife Ed, who run West Stow Pods, were granted planning permission to build a subterranean glamping pod in July.

The couple, whose four existing pods are fully booked for August, set up a Kickstarter campaign to fund the building of their Poddit Hole.

With help from Alan Baxter, of the Tolkien Society, they contacted Middle Earth Enterprises, which manages licensing of products related to the Tolkien brand.

However the company flatly rejected the pair’s application and within days Warner Bros Ltd had also intervened, shutting down their online campaign and requesting amendments to the branding of their new pod.

Jan said: “We realise we are dealing with a corporate giant, and we operate on quite a small scale. Getting emails and letters from big companies is very disconcerting.

“We’re trying to comply but there is such fantastic support locally and in the wider community, it would be absolutely criminal if it didn’t go ahead.”

Mr Baxter said: “West Stow is a great place for this project, as Tolkien was completely steeped in theworld of the Anglo Saxons.

“We’re determined to make this project happen here.”

Jan and Ed have dropped all references to Hobbits, but intend to continue using the name Poddit hole.

To donate, go to kickstarter.com and search Poddit Hole Holidays.

Following the Hobbit hole’s planning approval Jan and Ed started a Kickstarter fund-raising campaign applied to Middle Earth Enterprises, based in California, for permission to use the Hobbit name, which was subsequently rejected. On July 29, Warner Bros Ltd applied to Kickstarter to shut down the campaign. The entertainment giant requested several amendments, which Ed and Jan complied with, and the campaign was relaunched.

Middle Earth Enterprises was asked for comment and directed us to its website, which states: “Meeting the qualifications and submitting an application to become a licensee in no way guarantees that you will be granted a license.”

Warner Bros Ltd declined to comment.