As one of the sad Americans at the Uni of Edinburgh unable to return home for the holidays, I was invited to spend the week before Christmas in Northern Ireland with a friend and her family. This fortunate friend had the great privilege of driving me around the countryside and into Belfast so that I could go a bit camera crazy as I saw the sites. I had a glorious time. I can only hope the friend was not completely exhausted in the process.
As much as I love castles, one of my chief desires in seeing Northern Ireland was to hunt down some of the places that are related to our dear old friend C.S. Lewis. There are quite a few, though they are not well advertised, promoted, or easy to find.
My intrepid friend and I found every single one we set out to discover. I know. We are amazing explorers.
If you want to know what Lewis-related wonders Belfast has to offer, here are the places we found:
Lewis grew up in a house called Little Lea in a neighborhood near Belfast. This is where he first began to test the outer bounds of imagination and create new worlds. The house is still there, and is lived in – a private residence. This, unfortunately, means, that it cannot be visited. Isn’t it wonderful to think of living in the house where Lewis lived?
Campbell College and the Lamp Post:
For a brief period in 1910, Lewis attended a school called Campbell College, not far from Little Lea. He left due to an illness. In this impressive school’s drive, there is a certain gas lamp post. The college claims that this is the lamp post that Lewis drew his inspiration from for the first Narnia book. However, there is another that I did not see in Crawfordsburn Park that might have been the inspiration.
While it’s a relatively new monument to Lewis, and not in any sort of location relevant to him, I still enjoyed looking at the statue of The Searcher. This sculpture features Digory Kirke peering into the wardrobe. On the back of the wardrobe is the head of a lion and a letter that Lewis wrote to a young girl named Anne Jenkins explaining the death and resurrection of Aslan, tying it directly to Christ. Interesting fact: Anne Jenkins, all grown up, attended the unveiling of the sculpture, which was completed in time for the centenary celebration of Lewis’s birth in 1998.
It was a good day in Belfast leading up to Christmas, but my search for Lewis-related sites in Northern Ireland wasn’t finished. The following day, I went and saw another. But that will be for tomorrow’s postt.