My husband Keith and I visited Oxford, England the weekend of December 16-18, 2016, and my pressing goal was to see the Eagle and Child pub where J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and their "Inklings" literary group met every Tuesday from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm in the "Rabbit Room" from 1939 to 1962.
We found much more inspiration from Tolkien and Lewis than merely taking a photo in an old pub from 1650.
The B&B in which we stayed (The Bath House, which was built in the 17th century) sat next door to another pub the Inklings frequented, Turf Tavern, and across Holywell Street was yet another haunt of the group, King's Arms. At the end of Holywell Street was a house in which Tolkien and his wife Edith lived at No. 99.
But the greatest inspiration came from visiting Magdalen College (pronounced "Maudlin") where Lewis was a Fellow 1925-1954. We found the brass plaque dedicated to him above the stalls where the lecturers sit in the chapel. Walking around the buildings, especially the cloisters, it was easy to see where he and Tolkien found inspiration for their worlds of Narnia and Middle Earth in the statuary and grotesques, some dating back to the 15th century.
Several large, very old trees dot the campus. Perhaps they were Ent-spiration for Tolkien? We also strolled along "Addison's Walk," a serene, quiet path which follows a burbling stream, and found one of Lewis' poems on a plaque. Even in the dead of winter, the place was filled with possibilities, and I better understood how my literary heroes nurtured their fantastical stories with images and themes that resonate for all time.
The guidebook said Lewis, Tolkien, and other Inklings would walk together on this path, discussing philosophy and faith. I can see why! And that’s in the dead of winter. It must be gorgeous in spring and fall....
“Dyson and Tolkien then helped to complete the process of his conversion one night when walking with Lewis along Addison’s Walk on the night of 19/20 September 1931. The three of them were on one of their late night walks and were arguing about religion and mythology, which Lewis then described in a letter: ‘Now what Dyson and Tolkien showed me was this: that if I met the idea of sacrifice in a pagan story I didn’t mind it at all: and again, that if I met the idea of God sacrificing himself to himself. . .I liked it very much...provided I met it anywhere except in the Gospels. Now the story of Christ is simply a true myth: a myth working on us in the same way as the others, but with the tremendous difference that it really happened’.” --from the guide book from Heritage Tours Publications.
Katy Huth Jones grew up in a family where creative juices overflowed and made puddles to splash in. When not writing or taking photos, Katy plays piccolo and flute in a regional symphony. She lives with her husband Keith in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. Their two sons, whom she homeschooled, have flown the nest and live creative lives of their own.
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