Ronald K. Brind

C.S. Lewis in Oxford

A Guide for Visitors

Preserving the Lewis legacy; a report from The Oxford Times

A Wildlife Trust has come under fire for cutting down trees in the tranquil woodland that helped inspire C S Lewis to write ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’. The land next to the author’s former home in Risinghurst, Headington, Oxford known as “the real Narnia” is now a Nature Reserve. But Narnia has come under attack from chain saws, insists the man who organizes C S Lewis Tours, Oxford (tours not currently available) and he says the local wildlife trust BBOWT is to blame.

Ron Brind says the trust has needlessly cut down many trees, and are changing the character of the woodland that proved an inspiration to the Oxford don, who became known around the world for his Narnia books. Mr Brind, author of ‘A Guide to the C. S. Lewis Tour in Oxford’, said many foreign visitors who visit Lewis’s old home are horrified by the shabby state of the reserve. Mr Brind was a boyhood friend of Lewis’ stepson, Dougie Gresham and was a regular visitor to the author’s household. He said: “They have been up there with chain saws. When I asked what was going on they told me they were taking out all the non-native species. It is disgusting and scandalous. They include trees with three foot trunks that have taken sixty and seventy years to grow. American visitors who come here in search of Lewis are distraught, they think it is horrific. This was C S Lewis’s back garden for more than 30 years.”

Mr Brind has also complained about the state of the lake and the amount of rubbish strewn about the reserve. Sophie Lewis of BBOWT said Sycamore trees had been cut down to lighten up the site and encourage wildlife and undergrowth. Ms Lewis said: “Because of their rapid rate of growth, the trees that have been cut down would not have been there when C S Lewis was walking around. Mr Brind wants a lovely place to take American tourists to, but that is not our primary concern”.

Reproduced with permission: The Oxford Times

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