A POSTCARD addressed to Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien has been uncovered behind a fireplace in his former Poole home as the bulldozer moved in.

The 40-year-old card was discovered during the demolition of 19 Lakeside Road - the bungalow which was the writer's home from 1968 to 1972.

Stephen Malton, proprietor of Bournemouth-based Prodem Demolition, said: "It's a fantastic find. We've stumbled upon something quite amazing."

The card is dated 1968 and addressed to Tolkien at the Miramar Hotel, Bournemouth, where he and his wife Edith regularly spent holidays.

It depicts a scene from Cork, Ireland, and the message mentions the countryside and seascapes but enigmatically adds: "I hope everything has gone as well as could be expected in the most difficult circumstances."

It is signed "Lin", which could be fellow fantasy author Lin Carter, who wrote A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings.

Mr Malton and his team have salvaged the fireplace and also discovered a bronze fairy and stone gryphon in undergrowth in the garden.

He has already had offers from a Tolkien enthusiast in Belgium and thinks he could be in line for a windfall after spotting another fireplace, taken from Tolkien's Oxford home, advertised on a website for a staggering 250,000 US dollars.

He added: "This is the most exciting project I've come across. Something that was quite simple has escalated into something much more.

"I am hoping to find a real-life hobbit - that would definitely make the headlines!"

Mr Malton intends to sell the items at auction, and has notified the Tolkien estate of his finds.

The three-bedroom bungalow, which went on the market for £1million in 2006, is being demolished to make way for two four-bedroom family homes after an application from Cranbrook homes was approved by the council last August.

l JRR Tolkien retired to Poole with his wife Edith in 1968 after The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy had already made him famous.

He had stayed regularly at Bournemouth's Miramar Hotel, where a plaque commemorates his visits.

The most famous portrait of the reclusive author was taken by Lord Snowdon against the background of knobbly tree roots at Branksome Chine.

He remained in Poole until his wife's death in 1972, when he moved back to Oxford.

Tolkien died on a visit to Bournemouth in 1973, although his remains are now with his wife's, buried in Oxfordshire.

The Lord of the Rings was recently voted the Book of the Millennium.

Its popularity soared when director Peter Jackson adapted it into three blockbuster movies that brought Middle Earth and its inhabitants a new generation of fans.