Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Britain Day 14 - Oxford and the C. S. Lewis Jubilee

When planning this trip, I searched for C.S. Lewis tours in Oxford so we could do a day trip from London.  To my surprise, Holy Trinity Church, where Lewis attended, was having a C.S. Lewis Jubilee Festival.  This is in honor the 50th anniversary of his death.

We took a bus out to Headington and walked a few blocks down to the church.  There was a walkway up to the carriage house where the exhibition was to be.

We walked in and saw...a display board.  We exchanged glances and smiled, had we come so far to read a display?  But of course there was more.  They had audios of people who knew Jack and of course, cake and tea.  
The formidable church ladies were organizing refreshments and probably everything else in there.  I found it amusing that they kept talking about how to give hospitality while they didn't talk to us really.  But when we did approach them, they were polite although busy preparing to be hospitable.  I suppose we weren't the crowd they were planning for.

We walked back to the church for a tour, the walk seemed fairy-like.

I learned that it's okay to arrive late to church, leave during the last hymn, not talk to anyone and go to a pub before evening services.  And bring your Roman Catholic friend from time to time to spice things up, especially if he's named John Ronald Reuel...Tolkien.

This is the bench that Jack and Warnie usually sat in.  The front is not usually curtained off, they were having a play that night.

With a financial gift, the church was able to repair the roof and add a window honoring Lewis.  They call it the Narnia window.  The lady said that the children in the window are actually children from the church who modeled for it.  It includes a scene from each book.

Fresh flowers were on the grave.  This is actually a double grave, Clive is buried deepest, his brother, Warnie, above him.  Joy was cremated and buried elsewhere.

We were told that this isn't a very old church, just about 180 years.  It was built because of the quarry.  The laborers didn't have a church they could walk to, so they made one for them.  C. S. Lewis, when he moved to the Kilns, wanted to attend his parish church and this is where he attended.

The tour was wonderful and very personal.  We learned a bit by hearing personal stories of the people there who knew him.  Things that you just can't get from reading books.  

We walked back to the bus and back to the heart of Oxford.  Bodlien Library had a display of Magical Books which included Lewis, Tolkien and others.  I think I had an epiphany here.  Books are not merely met to be words.  The stories should be alive - whether with illustrations, narration or something more than just merely words on a page.  I'm still sorting out what that means.

Our last stop in Oxford, the Eagle and Child or Bird and Baby, where Lewis, Tolkien, Chesterton and others had their Inklings writing group.

The interior has been updated and is a mix of a modern pub with homage to the past.

Perhaps to be a good fantasy Christian writer, one should wear old clothes around, knock about the country and come in for a pint at the pub.  I don't think that would translate very well to America, though.

We took the train back to London and I don't even remember now what we ate for dinner.  We came back to our studio and packed.

Because we hadn't walked so much we weren't as tired as usual.  That's really too bad because a Friday night in a university area can be quite noisy.  Especially when the fire alarm goes off about 2am.  I'm glad we only had 1 weekend night in London.  Next time we'll have to bring ear plugs.

To view larger pictures, click on the photos.
To view all the posts for Britain 2013, click here.

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