“This is the land of Narnia… all that lies between the lamppost and the great castle of Cair Paravel…”
~ C.S. Lewis
We love Oxford. It’s not too far from us, so we tend to visit it every few months or so. We usually stay over and wander aimlessly, but we always eat dinner at the Chiang Mai Kitchen and then curl up in the Morse Bar at the Randolph Hotel with a cocktail and a crossword.
We’ve done a few walking tours in our time and there’s so much history and literary references, we can’t get enough. This time last year we went to an Advent Service at Magdalen College and had breakfast at Brasenose College, which was fabulous.
One of my favourite facts about Oxford relates to C.S. Lewis.
Lewis studied (and taught) at University College and later became a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Magdalen College. He was also one of the Inklings, and a good friend of J.R.R. Tolkien, who influenced Lewis to rediscover his Christian faith – something that would influence his writing in later life.
The story goes that he and J.R.R. Tolkien had been up late one winter’s night, drinking and discussing all manner of things. The next morning they went to church and Lewis started to feel a bit unwell (hungover no doubt). After trying to stay calm and managing to get through the service, he realised he was going to be sick and stood up to leave. Unfortunately, everyone else did too. He was forced to push himself out of the large, wooden church doors, forcing himself through a sea of fur coats.
Outside, it was snowing… the light of a nearby lamppost making the snow glisten.
Directly opposite the church is a wooden door, framed by golden fauns, with a sun in the middle. Now, that sun looks a little bit like a lion…
Allegedly, that moment later inspired him to write about a snow-covered land, where fauns and lions roamed. Not to mention a random lamppost that seemed misplaced.
I don’t know if it’s since hearing that story, but I seem to have developed an obsession with lampposts; many of my Oxford photos include them, as you can see below!
As for the story of C.S. Lewis – what do you think? Is that where he got the inspiration? Or is it just a happy coincidence?