Ronald K. Brind

C.S. Lewis in Oxford

A Guide for Visitors

Visit the Kilns and other Lewis places of interest in Oxford City

Once you arrive in Oxford City there will probably be just one person on your mind; C S Lewis, but ask the locals about him and you will start to wonder why they look at you with a furrowed brow. Why do so few know anything about this man, indeed he is often confused with Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland) and ‘Lewis’ in Colin Dexters ‘Inspector Morse’ novels.

In fact there are many C S Lewis related places to visit in Oxfordshire but information on how to find them and the difficulties that you may encounter en-route, is not so freely available. Author Ron Brind who met C S Lewis (Jack) as a ten year provides everything you need to know and a whole lot more besides, some of which you may not want to believe.

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Throughout this website the reference to the ‘legendary’ Ron is made. The fact is I am proud to be able to claim my 3 or 4 hours of fame as the man who guided American Rock Band ‘Third Day’ with their traveling Pastor Nigel James on a tour. See 

Some of the places that you won’t want to miss on your pilgrimage include:

The Randolph Hotel, Beaumont Street, Oxford. Oxfords Premier Hotel.

The Ashmolean Museum, Beaumont Street, Oxford. Europe’s first public Museum.

The Martyrs Memorial: Reminding us of Archbishop Cranmer, Bishops Latimer and Ridley who were burnt at the stake in Oxford City during the years 1555/1556 during the reign of our Queen Mary who at the time was looking towards Rome and Catholicism

The Eagle and Child pub: Also known locally as the Bird and Baby where the Inklings frequently gathered in the ‘Rabbit Room’ and where C S Lewis referred to ‘Many a golden session in front of a blazing fire with a pint close to hand’.

The former Register Office at 42 St Giles, Oxford: Where C S Lewis (Jack) and Helen Joy Gresham (nee Davidman) who preferred to be known as Joy were married in the so-called marriage of convenience in April 1956

The Lamb and Flag pub in St Giles, Oxford which is opposite the Eagle and Child and happens to be another ‘Lewis/Tolkien’ watering hole!

Keble College: Parks Road, Oxford. (Pronounced ‘key-bull’) where C S Lewis and Paddy Moore (Edward Courtenay Francis ‘Paddy’ Moore) son of Mrs Janie King-Moore, were in training for the First World War. During 1922 Jack moved in with Paddy’s mother Mrs Janie King-Moore. They lived at Hillsborough House in Headington, Oxford from 1922 to 1930. It was to be the start of a long relationship, but just what was going on between Jack and Janie King-Moore? Read about my thoughts later.

Rhodes House: As the name suggests, this is where the Rhodes Scholars come from. Students who enroll at Oxford have to be ‘politically motivated’ and as such will take time out from their College to complete the course at Rhodes House. Ex US President Bill Clinton is a Rhodes Scholar, although I am told he was one of those persons who didn’t actually complete the course!

Former St Cross Church: St Cross is an archive repository and research centre for Balliol College (it’s not owned by the University, and the collections kept there are separate from the University’s libraries.) The famous names post mid-19th century are buried in the city’s Holywell Cemetery behind the church, rather than in the churchyard, which consists only of the small triangle nearest the road, behind an iron fence and separated from the cemetery by a low wall. The two are often confused and conflated. Church records and cemetery records are in the Oxfordshire History Centre.

Magdalen College: High Street, Oxford (pronounced maud-lyn) where Jack taught English Language and Literature for twenty nine years!

Magdalen Bridge: High Street, Oxford under which flows the River Cherwell (pronounced ‘char-well’) and near to Addisons Walk; so named after a Magdalen College Fellow and where Lewis accepted Christ.

Magdalen College Great Tower; on May Day annually a Pagan Festival to welcome in the sunrise is celebrated with the Magdalen College Choir singing the traditional Hymnus Eucharisticus at 6am May from the top of the Tower.

Magdalen College School: Cowley Place, Oxford; where brothers Douglas and David Gresham attended school during the mid1950s. They would later become step-sons of C S Lewis as a result of the marriage between Jack and Joy.

Headington Hill: Where God spoke to Lewis whilst he was on the top deck of a double decker bus on his way home to Headington. Lewis chose to open the door!

The former home of J R R Tolkien: Where he lived from 1953 to 1968 and where he was living as the trilogy was published in 1954.

The former home of Helen Joy Gresham (nee Davidman): Where Joy lived in Headington during 1953 the home that Jack helped to arrange for her. It was whilst she was living here that Joy received a letter from her husband William Gresham back in the States, that signaled the end of their marriage.

Hillsborough House at 14 Holyoake Road, Headington, Oxford is also referred to as ‘Hillsboro’ House confirmed by the name etched into the stone lintel over a window of the first floor, that can be seen to the left of the front door as you enter the property. This is where C S Lewis (Jack) and Janie King-Moore lived together for 8 years (1922-1930) after the agreement with Paddy Moore at Keble College before they went off to War. The property has been used as a Chiropractic Clinic for several years, but during 2013 the clinic ceased to be and the building is now offered for sale. Local residents fear for what the building may be used if developers get hold of it and are trying to organize support for a say in it’s future. I think it should remain a property of National interest and it will for me, always be part of Britain’s Christian Heritage, as should the Kilns, but hanging on to it is another matter. Money as ever, seems to determine the outcome.

The Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre (NOC) formerly the Wingfield Hospital: Where Joy was treated for bone cancer in the Mayfair Suite, a private ward at the time.

The ‘Kilns’ was the former home of C S Lewis from 1930 to 1963 but sadly it’s not as you might expect to find it in my opinion. It’s certainly not the remote, rambling homestead in acres of land today.

‘Narnia’ – The Lake and Woodland: Part of the original plot of land purchased by Mrs Janie King-Moore with the help of Jack and Warnie’s cash.

The Ampleforth Arms: Where Douglas and I fetched beer for Jack and Warnie in empty Cider bottles at the age of 12 years, but not a pub that he would frequent today I suspect and certainly not one that I can recommend either! It happens that the pub was closed during 2015 and its future is being considered.

Holy Trinity Church and Churchyard: Where the Lewis brothers attended Church for nearly 31 years and where you will find their final resting place in the Churchyard under towering Pine trees.

The Masons Arms: The reason for Jack and Warnie’s early departure from Church. Was it the noise of the organ, the fact that they rarely got involved with the locals, or what? The answer is very simple, they wanted to be at the head of the line for a beer!

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