Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Perfect Literary Storm

During a recent trip I experienced what some would call “a perfect literary storm”. Each time I have visited England, I have tried to visit sites that played an important part to a favorite historical figure of mine. Last month though, I was in Oxford England to take a class and during that week I was able to visit the home and grave site of my 3 favorite literary heroes.

CS Lewis

On Monday, after class, Kim and I caught the bus on high street (okay it was the wrong bus but we eventually got on the correct one), and went a few miles to Headington to visit the home of CS Lewis.

"The Kiln's" where Lewis lived for the last 30+ years of his life
It is still a private home so we weren’t able to go inside but next to the home was a nature preserve that Lewis bought as a tribute to a friend. It was where he and JRR Tolkien got a lot of inspiration for there make believe worlds.

Holy Trinity Church in Headington
We then walked about a ½ a mile to the church where he attended for about 30 + years. They even had his regular pew marked so we could sit in it.

Me, sitting in his pew where he sat for many years.

There was a window near his seat with representations of some of the Narnia characters, SOOOO COOL!

The Narnia window in Holy Trinity
Then we walked out to the cemetery and found his grave site. CS Lewis’ writing has been such an inspiration to me.

Lewis and his brothers grave

Next to the Scriptures (Holy Bible, and the Book of Mormon), and my Church Leaders,  his writings have has the most impact on my spirituality.
William Shakespeare

On Wednesday, one of the extra excursions went up to Stratford-Upon-Avon to see a performance of “The Winter’s Tale” performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company. I was so excited because this is my favorite play!

At Shakespeare's grave in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-Upon-Avon
The curse that marks his grave

We left shortly after lunch and it is less than an hour from Oxford so we had time to go to Holy Trinity Church and visit Shakespeare’s grave site and memorial. We also went to the home of his daughter, Elizabeth, who was married to John Hall, the Doctor in the town.

Home of Shakespeare's daughter, Elizabeth and her husband Dr. John Hall

Then we went to the site of where his last home was called “New Place”. He had it built and then after his retirement , lived here until his death.

Garden and excavation site at New Place

The home is no longer standing, due to a stupid man who got tired of people coming to see “where Shakespeare” lived so he had it demolished!!! Incredible! They are now doing an archaeological dig at the site. It was interesting to see some of the things they had found already. In addition to this, the play was AMAZING!!! And one of the actors, Sam Troughton, which was in the BBC series of “Robin Hood”, was in it and he was nice enough to autograph my program.
Sam Troughton who portrayed "Much" in the BBC's "Robin Hood"

Then on Thursday, our class went on an excursion to Winchester. I have posted about why in my “King Alfred” blog on the 23rd of August but Jane Austen is also buried in Winchester Cathedral. We had to convince our Tutor to let us take a few pictures at her grave site and memorial, (he is not interested in Jane Austen if you can believe that!).

Jane's grave and memorial in Winchester Cathedral
Then after we left the Cathedral grounds and were following the medieval wall around to where we were to catch the bus, we passed the home she had been visiting at the time of her death. Dr. Beard was patient again with us that wanted a few pictures of us in front of the home.
The home that Jane died in

Although Lewis Carroll is not one of my favorite authors, I still enjoy "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", so I took a tour of Christ Church College, where we stayed for the week and learned about all the Alice spots at the college and where Carroll got some of his influences for the stories. Very interesting!

The tree in the Dean's Garden that was the inspiration for the Jabberwocky
The door that Alice Liddell would go through to play in the garden.  Also, the tree in the top right corner is the tree that Alice's cat would always climb into so she couldn't get her.  The set of 2 windows in the building behind the wall are the windows of Carroll's office and where he would watch the Liddell children play in the garden.
The Door in the corner of the Great Hall where the students ate (same hall that is in the Harry Potter films).  This is where Alice Liddell's father, who was the Dean of Christ Church College, would rush through at meal times exclaiming that "he was late" again.  The students were not allowed to eat until he got there. 
Window's in the Great Hall, first is Lewis Carroll (the dodo bird is him in the books) then the Alice window with Alice Liddell in the center.  Below are other windows with some more characters from the books. 

Then to make the end of the perfect week at Oxford, on Friday morning, I woke up at 5 am and was out on the road at 5:45. I had found two different walking tours entitled “CS Lewis’ Oxford”. I combined the 2 to have a complete tour of every site that was important to him while he lived, went to school, and taught here throughout his life (except his home which we saw on Monday). I will blog about that later since there was quite a bit to see. But it was a great 2 hours!

It really was an amazing week!


Tami Allred said...

I think I would be a writer if I lived there too. So beautiful and peaceful looking. Love all the tidbits. I really want to go next time with you.

Anita said...

Wow, Leslie. CS Lewis, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Carol - that was quite a trip. Very interesting and beautiful....

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