Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
East Belfast's C.S. Lewis sites
Jonal entry 1134 | October 14 2010
This video Jonal begins with a few comments about my last look at the city of London on Tuesday morning en route to Heathrow International Airport by subway from St. Pancras Kings Crossing, after having taken a cross-country train from Cambridge. There are brief looks out the window of the house I'm staying at in Belfast with my friends the Stothers and a large supermarket grocery where we bought some provisions on Wednesday. Then we move ahead to Thursday afternoon and the beginning of the tour of sites related to C.S. Lewis in the section of BelfastEast Belfast and the subdivisions of Dundela and Strandtownwhere he was born and lived his first nine years.
After viewing murals commemorating Lewis painted on fences and building ends in his old neighborhood (significant because for decades inflammatory political murals meant to incite hostilities adorned walls like these in Belfast and some still exist). A huge crane shown near one of the murals had been part of the world's largest ship-building plant operation, which was nearby for many years but is now almost entirely idle, like most of the steel mills that still stand in my home city (and others) in Pennsylvania. The ill-fated Titanic oceanliner was built in Belfast and Lewis's paternal grandfather had been a partner of a shipbuilding company in the industry's heyday.
The first mural is a scene of Narnia glimpsed through the door of a wardrobe as described in Lewis's children's novel, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and our gracious and generous tourguide, Presbyterian minister and a Lewis expert, the Rev. Jack Lamb, pretends he is going to go through the door. After a more self-explaining mural we go on to the public library in Standtown, in the patio of which an excellent sculpture depicts the same wardrobe but with Lewis as a young man (or as his alter ego in the Narnia novels, Digory Kirke), opening the door. There is also footage of the interior of the library where we were shown extensive files of Lewis material.
Our next stop was at a row house which now occupies the lot on which the house where Lewis was born (no longer standing) had been. We stopped to take a picture of a lamp post on the campus of Campbell College, a private high school that Lewis attended for a time when he was about 13 years old. Then we go to the church, St. Mark's Church of Ireland (Anglican) in Dundela, which had been pastored by Lewis's maternal grandfather, the Rev. Thomas Hamilton, where Lewis's father and mother met, were married, and later Lewis was baptized in January 1999. Scenes there show the baptistry, the stained-glass window that Lewis and his brother Warnie donated to the church in memory of their parents, and other interior shots. The church Warden, Thomas Blake, is seen explaining the history of the Lewis family's involvement in St. Mark's. (The church vicarage or pastor's home is indeed the house that I "guessed" in the video was occupied by Lewis's grandparents in his early years.)
Then we proceed to Little Lea, the house the Lewis family moved to when Lewis was a small boy and which was the family home until his father's death in 1929, when it was sold to settle the estate. Finally, we visit the Crawfordsburn Inn, a colorful and very old establishment about 10 miles away from Lewis's boyhood home where he took his wife, Joy, on a honeymoon late in life. Seen there of particular interest is the "cottage" which they stayed in.
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