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Showing posts from July, 2009

Sister Penelope

The paper I delivered at the recent Perelandra Colloquium in Oxford was entitled: Some Ladies at Wantage: C. S. Lewis, Sister Penelope & The Community of St Mary the Virgin. Lewis dedicated Perelandra to "Some ladies at Wantage", the nuns of CSMV. Lewis's correspondence with Sister Penelope of CSMV began when Penelope wrote to Lewis about Out of the Silent Planet. Their correspondence continued for the next 24 years, right to the end of Lewis's life.
One of the many blessings of my recent visit to Oxford was that I had the opportunity to visit Wantage thanks to the help of a nun from another religious community, Sister Catherine CSC, who drove me out to see the Community of St Mary the Virgin.
Here are some photos from that visit. . . .

Entrance
Gatehouse where C. S. Lewis stayed
when he visited and spoke to the Junior Sisters of CSMV in the early 1940's
CSMV Cemetery

Sister Penelope's Memorial Marker

The Church of St. Cross, Holywell

During my recent trip to Oxford I visited a number of graves. One of the church yards I visited was that of the Church of St. Cross, Holywell, pictured above. Walter Hooper writes of this church in C. S. Lewis: Companion & Guide, p. 781,
Many of Lewis's friends and acquaintances lie in the cemetery adjacent to this ancient church in St Cross Road, Oxford. The earliest parts of the church date from the late 11th or early 12th century, but most of what is seen was added during the 14th-16th centuries. Charles Williams went to services here during his years in Oxford, and Dorothy L. Sayers chose it for the 'marriage' of Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane in Busman's Honeymoon. The cemetery contains the graves of many notable people, among whom are : Stella Aldwinckle; Sir Maurice Bowra (1898-1971), Warden of Wadham College; H.V.D. 'Hugo' Dyson; Austin Farrer; Katherine Farrer; Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932), author of The Wind in the Willows; Lord Redcliffe-Maud …

Joy Davidman

In celebration of the Fourth of July I am reading the letters of C. S. Lewis's American wife, Joy Davidman (edited by my friend Don King). These letters, along with King's brief and incisive commentary along the way, are a real treat.

While I was in Oxford last week I got to see the former Register Office (42 St Giles) where Lewis and Davidman were married in a civil ceremony on April 23, 1956:



I also walked by Joy's former home at 10 Old High Street, Headington:





And here is an old photo of mine showing Joy's memorial at the Oxford Crematorium with poem by C. S. Lewis:

And Douglas Gresham viewing his mother's memorial plaque in 1997:

Sheldon Vanauken in Oxford

Here are some photos from my recent visit to some sites mentioned by Sheldon Vanauken in A Severe Mercy. . . .

The Perch in Binsey
Interior of The Perch The church yard of St. Margaret's, Binsey,
where Van & Davy's ashes were scattered.
Interior of St. Margaret's


The organ played by Davy St. Margaret's Well which also figures in the Alice stories by Lewis Carroll


Street sign above and approximate location of The Studio (now demolished) below:

"Ah Studio! We'll meet again. It won't be gaslight in the lane, But just as gentle, only brighter. And Jack on Aslan's back. We'll sing His glory Around those two: One Love-truth. Old world will give one final 'crack!' Our hearts could not be lighter." Dom Julian, O.S.B. (Upon reading the Oxford chapters of A Severe Mercy in manuscript.)