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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)

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