Leslie had a plan to go to the neighborhood of author C.S. Lewis' final home located in Risinghurst, a small residential area in the suburb of Headington. I tagged along and wanted to relive it with you. Hopefully you will feel as if you had been for a visit, too.
First, I would like to point out these little blue plaques that you find throughout England (most heavily seen in London). The English Heritage handles this scheme (don't you love their use of the word scheme?). The blue plaque "commemorates the link between notable figures of the past and the buildings in which they lived and worked."
We took a bus out of Oxford toward Headington and hopped off at the "Kiln Lane" bus stop.
The weather was perfect, a slight breeze and no rain in sight. We walked along this quiet residential street not knowing exactly what we would find.
That's the first glimpse of his house (above). Can't you just picture yourself living on this street?
His house wraps around following the curve of a cul-de-sac. The hedges neatly clipped and a tad too high for my taste (given that I had to stand on my tippy-toes to get a better look).
"The Kilns" is the name of Lewis' home. If you squint, you can make out the name on the plaque tucked away at the upper left side of the house.
Ta-da! It is just what I pictured. Look at the flowers beckoning you to follow the path to the front door (which we did not do). The C.S Lewis Foundation (U.S. based) now owns the home and uses it for scholarly conferences. Now that I'm thinking about it, maybe Leslie and I would have qualified? You know since we were attending Christ Church College at Oxford. I mean, really, isn't that like a scholarly conference? We should have at least tried.
Further down the road at the end of the Lewis property is the C.S. Lewis Nature Reserve dedicated to Lewis' friends, Henry and Dora Stephen.
We walked down the path and through the gate. Now picture the scene below with snow scattered amongst the tree limbs. Wouldn't that lend itself to be a magical place?
This little pond may look stagnant, but it isn't. So, happily the air was fresh and we could sit a spell.
Which is what we did right on this little bench, facing the pond. As it happens, C.S. Lewis and his friend, J.R.R. Tolkien, would sit and talk about their middle-earth stories on this very bench. Clearly, this is a charming place and we could sit here for hours but we need to push on.
Back down the street, across a few roads, and down a few paths, we find this little parish. Holy Trinity Church is where C.S. and his brother, Warnie, attended church for over 30 years. Joy, C.S.'s wife, would also join them.
This is a small entrance on the side of the church with the ever-present boot-scraper.
Look at these kneeling pads in this darling little church. All hand-made by parishioners. They really brighten up the dark wood pews.
At times I am obsessed with doorways. But look at the stone arch, so simple and the iron gate just right with that little flourish at the top.
This is what I envision when I think of an English country parish.
This is the marker of the grave for both C.S. and his brother, Warnie.
Now we are walking back to catch the bus to Oxford. But first, a little something about the Headington Quarry which is how this village came to be. The quarry dates back to the late 1300's supplying the local churches with stone. Then they hit pay dirt (literally) supplying all those Oxford colleges (including Christ Church College) with massive amounts of stone for building. Most of the quarry used at Oxford is golden yellow but a lot of the stone used in Headington is the white-gray limestone, as in the cottage below.
Can't help myself--love this little cottage so I had to snap a pic. The light gray stones, the crisp white windows, the vines climbing to the right, the peaked doorframe with the window above, and the pot of boxwood below, tells me this owner would be my friend. And if she knew I was standing over her gate taking pictures she would surely open the door and say, "Please, do come in and have a spot of tea and scones with me while I tell you about my little cottage."
And doesn't this path look inviting? The half-gates are positioned this way to keep out farm animals. But no time to take a peak at what lies at the end. We need to get back to College in time for dinner.
Cardinal Wolsey (the fellow in the middle) welcomes us back to Christ Church College.
Back at Oxford. Wasn't that a perfect afternoon? Thank you for coming along.
Note: For more information on C.S. Lewis sites in Oxford, please click on Leslie's blog here.