Thursday, September 15, 2016

C. S. Lewis Tour--London


The final two days of our C. S. Lewis Tour of Ireland & England were spent in London. Upon our arrival we enjoyed a panoramic tour of the city that included Westminster Abbey. A number of our tour participants chose to tour the inside of the Abbey where they were able to view the new C. S. Lewis plaque in Poets' Corner.


Though London was not one of Lewis' favorite places to visit, there are a number of locations associated with him. One which I have noted in my new book, In the Footsteps of C. S. Lewis, is Endsleigh Palace Hospital (25 Gordon Street, London) where Lewis recovered from his wounds received during the First World War....


Not too far away from this location is King's College, part of the University of London, located on the Strand, just off the River Thames. This is the location where Lewis gave the annual commemoration oration entitled The Inner Ring on 14 December 1944....


C. S. Lewis occasionally attended theatrical events in London. One of his favorites was a performance of the opera, Das Rheingold, on 2 May 1933 at St. Martin's Theatre, Covent Garden. The theatre is best known today for its continual performances of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap of which I saw a performance in this location in 1982. This is the world's longest running play, having opened in 1952. The play transferred from the nearby Ambassador Playhouse in 1974....

The theatre is well worth a visit, not only for its connection to C. S. Lewis, and the opportunity to see this long-running play, but also to view the beautiful interior....


Another well-known London site with Lewis connections is Lambeth Palace, the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It was here that Lewis met T. S. Eliot for the first time, in January 1959, at a meeting of scholars invited to work on the revision of the Psalter for The Book of Common Prayer.  To learn more about touring Lambeth Palace you may click here: Lambeth Palace Tours.


I believe The National Gallery on Trafalgar Square is one of those must-see locations for every visitor to London. C. S. Lewis visited here on 28 August 1922. He enjoyed the work of Botticelli and thought the Italian Rooms were "nothing like so boring as the English"! You can learn more about this museum here: The National Gallery.


Of course one of the London locations that Lewis visited the most was the British Broadcasting Corporation when Lewis was delivering his live talks over BBC Radio during the Second World War. Tours are not currently available of Broadcasting House where Lewis gave his radio talks but one can still walk by and view the outside. Broadcasting House is located on Portland Place in Marylebone, London, directly across the street from All Souls Church, Langham Place where Rev. John Stott was the rector for many years....


One other church connected to Lewis which you may wish to visit while in London is St. Jude on the Hill. It was here in April 1945 that Lewis preached one of his six published sermons entitled "The Grand Miracle". This sermon was later published in God in the Dock and formed a sort of first attempt at what became one of the chapters in Lewis' book, Miracles. St. Jude on the Hill is located at Central Square, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London. This church is situated in an area of London known as Golders Green; in fact, that is the name of the closest Tube stop. Readers of Lewis may remember that one of Lewis' characters in his book, The Great Divorce, was Sarah Smith from Golders Green. In Lewis' time, Golders Green was a somewhat poor neighborhood but today it is a wealthy residential suburb of London. You can learn more about the church here: St. Jude on the Hill.





Tuesday, September 13, 2016

C. S. Lewis Tour--Cambridge


We began our visit to Cambridge with a lecture from the Rev. Dr. Malcolm Guite, Chaplain of Girton College. Malcolm is also a poet, published author, and Anglican priest. You can access his web site here: Malcolm Guite. Malcolm spoke to us about C. S. Lewis' inaugural lecture at Cambridge on November 29, 1954. Malcolm's talk was delivered in the very room where Lewis gave his first lecture as Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature.


After Malcolm's lecture, we walked to the other end of the Cambridge city centre to view Lewis' college, Magdalene.  As Lewis did at Oxford, so at Cambridge, he attended chapel services regularly in term time....


On our second day in Cambridge we took a morning walk along the River Cam, led by Malcolm Guite, to the village of Grantchester.



Upon arriving in Grantchester we made our way to The Orchard where we had tea and scones while listening to Malcolm read various bits of poetry, including his own.


After tea at the Orchard we walked next door to the Old Vicarage where the poet Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) once stayed. There is a lovely statue of Brooke in front of the house....



A couple of Brooke's poems have become quite well-known and often recited. One of these is entitled, "The Old Vicarage--Grantchester" and contains these lines....
God! I will pack, and take a train,And get me to England once again!For England's the one land, I know,Where men with Splendid Hearts may go;And Cambridgeshire, of all England,The shire for Men who Understand;And of that district I preferThe lovely hamlet Grantchester.
The poem ends with these lines....
Stands the Church clock at ten to three?And is there honey still for tea?


Thus, after viewing the outside of the Old Vicarage, we made our way up the street to the Church of St. Andrew & St. Mary. As many will know, this is where the BBC/PBS television series is filmed, as was evident upon entering the church....


Of course, the even more well known "church" in the area is King's College Chapel, whose boy choir is heard by radio around the world on Christmas Eve through the broadcast of their Nine Lessons & Carols service. Upon seeing this chapel for the first time, Lewis said it was beautiful beyond hope or belief....




A visit to Cambridge would not be complete without punting on the River Cam...


from which vantage point one gains gorgeous views of many of the colleges including Kings....

Friday, September 09, 2016

C. S. Lewis Tour--Oxford


Our first stop in Oxford was for lunch at the Eagle & Child pub where the Inklings met on Tuesday mornings for many years.

From there we made our way to Magdalen College where we stood outside Lewis' rooms and read about his conversion to theism from Surprised by Joy. We also went for a stroll around Addison's Walk and read Lewis' letter to Arthur Greeves where he described his return to Christian faith under the influence of his friends, Tolkien and Dyson.


After our time at Magdalen, we checked into the Eastgate Hotel (pictured below). Our home away from home for our two days in Oxford. 


The Eastgate often served as a meeting location for C. S. Lewis with various friends, including Joy Davidman. The reason for this is because the Eastgate is conveniently located across the street from Magdalen whose 500 year old tower is pictured below.



On Sunday morning we went to worship at Holy Trinity Church, Headington Quarry, where C. S. Lewis attended worship services for over 30 years.


We admired the Narnia window inside the church.



And we enjoyed the opportunity to receive Holy Communion at the same altar rail where the Lewis brothers knelt and worshipped for so many years. 



Outside the church we stood at the Lewis brothers' grave and read the inscription. We thought it appropriate that a cat joined us at graveside considering what an animal lover Lewis was.




After lunch we enjoyed a delightful tour of The Kilns, C. S. Lewis' home for over 30 years.


Once again, we were joined by a neighborhood cat....



I was informed by Walter Hooper (pictured below) that the cat is named Warnie. However, Walter and I both agreed that the cat must think that she is Mrs. Moore, given her penchant for guarding the Kilns.


Walter gave us a marvelous talk all about the brief time he spent as Lewis' secretary during the last summer of Lewis' life in 1963.



 It is always difficult for me to say goodbye to Oxford and all of its architectural grandeur and beauty.


Wednesday, September 07, 2016

C. S. Lewis Tour--Malvern College


C. S. Lewis first came to Great Malvern, England in 1911. He describes it this way in Surprised by Joy, using the fictitious name "Wyvern" to disguise the identity of his school....
In January, 1911, just turned thirteen, I set out with my brother to Wyvern, he for the College and I for a preparatory school which we will call Chartres. Thus began what may be called the classic period of our schooldays, the thing we both think of first when boyhood is mentioned. The joint journeys back to school with a reluctant parting at Wyvern station, the hilarious reunion at the same station for the joint journey home, were now the great structural pillars of each year.
It was at this preparatory school, pictured above and actually called "Cherbourg", that C. S. Lewis lost his faith. This was the result of several factors: a matron at school who introduced Lewis to occultism, his own struggles with prayer, and his reading in the classics.

It was also at Cherbourg that Lewis discovered Norse mythology and through it experienced a personal renaissance....

I can lay my hand on the very moment; there is hardly any fact I know so well, though I cannot date it. Someone must have left in the school-room a literary periodical: The Bookman, perhaps, or the Times Literary Supplement. My eye fell upon a headline and a picture, carelessly, expecting nothing. A moment later, as the poet says, "The sky had turned round."
What I had read was the words Siegfried and the Twilight of the Gods. What I had seen was one of Arthur Packham's illustrations to that volume. I had never heard of Wagner, nor of Siegfried. I thought the Twilight of the Gods meant the twilight in which the gods lived. How did I know, at once and beyond question, that this was no Celtic, or silvan, or terrestrial twilight? But so it was. Pure "Northernness" engulfed me: a vision of huge, clear spaces hanging above the Atlantic in the endless twilight of Northern summer, remoteness, severity ... and almost at the same moment I knew that I had met this before, long, long ago (it hardly seems longer now) in Tegner's Drapa, that Siegfried (whatever it might be) belonged to the same world as Balder and the sunward-sailing cranes. And with that plunge back into my own past there arose at once, almost like heartbreak, the memory of Joy itself, the knowledge that I had once had what I now lacked for years, that I was returning at last from exile and desert lands to my own country... 
This recurring experience of what Lewis alternately calls Joy, longing, or sehnsucht, is one of the factors that eventually led him back to faith in Christ. 

At the end of the Summer Term of 1913, Lewis won a classical entrance scholarship to Malvern College, despite the fact that he was ill with fever when he took the scholarship examination.


Jack, like his brother Warnie before him, became a resident of School House, pictured below....



As a student at Malvern, Lewis would have had examinations in the Big School (pictured below)....


And he would have attended chapel services daily in term time....


In later years, the Lewis brothers returned often to Malvern for a variety of reasons. Leonard Blake (pictured below) taught music at Malvern for many years. Blake was the husband of Maureen Moore, the daughter of Janie King Moore, Lewis' "adopted mother". Thus, the Lewis brothers would often exchange places with Maureen in Malvern while she would go to Oxford to care for her mother.


Lewis loved hiking the Malvern Hills, in part due to the tremendous views.

Warren Lewis relates this somewhat humorous anecdote regarding the Lewis brothers walking the Malvern Hills with their friend, J. R. R. Tolkien....
Tollers fitted easily into our routine and I think he enjoyed himself. His one fault turned out to be that he wouldn't trot at our pace in harness; he will keep going all day on a walk, but to him, with his botanical and entomological interests, a walk, no matter what its length, is what we would call an extended stroll, while he calls us "ruthless walkers". (Brothers & Friends, p. 207)
George Sayer, C. S. Lewis' former pupil and friend, joined the Lewis brothers and Tolkien on the same walk and gave the following description.... 
You should have seen Jack trying to walk with J.R.R. Tolkien! Once Jack got started a bomb could not have stopped him and the more he walked, the more energy he had for a good argument. Now Tolkien was just the opposite. If he had something to say, he wanted you to stop so he could look you in the face. So on they would go, Jack charging ahead and Tolkien pulling at him, trying to get him to stop – back and forth, back and forth. What a scene! (Walking with C. S. Lewis)

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

C. S. Lewis Tour--Great Malvern



We began our visit to Great Malvern, England, with a tour of the Morgan car factory. Now, as you might imagine, this site has no direct link to C. S. Lewis. However, another person whom I have written about, namely Sheldon Vanauken, who came to faith through C. S. Lewis, bought a car here back in 1967. 


Great Malvern is dominated by the tower of Malvern Priory. Parts of the church building date to 1085.


We stayed right next to the Priory in the beautiful Abbey Hotel. At breakfast we had this lovely view of the Priory out of the window by our table....


Malvern Priory has a larger display of 15th century stained glass than any church in England.


The Priory is also known for its misericords. These are the seats of the Monk's stalls. Each seat is hinged with a ledge underneath on which the Monks could rest, taking the weight off their legs during the numerous long daily services. In this photo a kneeling cushion is resting on the ledge of the misericord.


No other church in England has such a well preserved collection of medieval wall tiles. sited on the lower part of the wall behind the high altar.

There are 19 of the larger tiles bearing the date 1453 in Roman numerals. Eleven tiles carry the Arms of England, lions and fleur-de-lys.


On Easter Sunday 1947, the Lewis brothers celebrated Communion here. The Priory claims that C. S. Lewis' use of a wardrobe and a lamppost as images in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe may possibly have been inspired by something in the church....


Could this be the wardrobe?


Could this be the doorway to Narnia?


And could this be the inspiration for the lamppost in the middle of a wood?


The claim seems to me to be dubious at best. But in my next post we will take a deeper look at C. S. Lewis' real connections to Great Malvern and what inspiration he may truly have received there....