Streets of CS Lewis

C. S. Lewis was born in East Belfast before moving to England. 

Several streets close to C.S. Lewis Square were named in his honour - Lewis Avenue, Lewis Drive, Lewis Mews and Lewis Park 

During the Second World War the voices of two men could be heard in the households of those who possessed radios and were thus able to listen to the only national station, the BBC. Each man in his own unique way inspired, encouraged and challenged his listeners during those horrific years.

The first was the gravelly, slow, deliberate voice of Winston Churchill. Millions of British people, who voted him out of power at the first post-war General Election, would nevertheless testify that, but for him, we could have lost the War and be living under the swastika today.

The second voice was equally distinctive and, frankly, rather posh. It was the epitome of its owner - an Oxford don. His name was C. S. Lewis but from childhood he liked to be called “Jack” after his pet dog “Jacksie.” He was not on the radio by right but at the invitation of the B.B.C.. His radio talks were later published as  a survey of the beliefs held in common by the various Churches in the book “Mere Christianity.”

Although he was the grandson of a Church of Ireland rector, the death of his mother, Flora, when he was aged 9 and a mistaken belief that intelligent people could not believe in God, led to many years of atheism. He came to faith in Christ as his Saviour when he was 32. This commitment was so profound that, in addition to his academic lectures and writings, he dedicated much of his time to speaking and writing about Christ and the Kingdom of God.

All his books of Christian apologetics I.e. the defence of the faith, are still in print plus his 3 science fiction books and his wonderful 7 part “Chronicles of Narnia,” which have thrilled children and those with child-like hearts for more than 70 years.

Lewis may have had an Oxford accent, as his only surviving War broadcast, which is about prayer, proves but he was not English. His paternal grandfather was a Welsh shipbuilder who moved to Belfast. His son, Albert, a lawyer, married Flora Hamilton, a Queen’s College, Belfast, Maths graduate. They had two sons, Warren/Warnie born in 1895, who went on to military service and Clive Staples/Jack, born in 1898, whose
writings continue to teach, challenge, convict and delight. 

So, C. S. Lewis was a Belfast man, born in Dundela Villas and who enjoyed a precious, love-filled childhood until his mother died in Little Lea, a large detached house in a little field. Surrounded by books and excited by a loft with a wardrobe, Warnie and Jack had adventures in their imaginations which later bore fruit in Narnia and Aslan - the figure of Christ.

While Dundela Villas have been replaced by modern flats, you can still view Little Lea, a private dwelling, from its gate. St. Mark’s Church of Ireland, the first rector of which was the Rev. Thomas Hamilton ( Lewis’s maternal grandfather )welcomes people from around the world and there you can see the stunning memorial window, gifted by Warnie and Jack, in memory of their parents. The old rectory, next door, has a metal lion’s head, the size of a large fist, at the eye-level  of a five year old.

Less than a mile away, outside the Holywood Arches Library, is a life size bronze statue of the Narnia Wardrobe being opened by Digory Kirk, with the face of a young C. S. Lewis. The text around the base of the statue tells us when Lewis was born and that he was reborn in 1931, rather than when he died. Take a few steps from the statue and you can enjoy a series of statues of Narnia figures - Mr. Tumnus, the White Witch, Maugrim the wolf, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, the robin, the Stone Table of sacrifice split down the middle and, towering over them all, the figure of Asian.

Having explored these wonderful sites linking us to C. S. Lewis, we deserve a coffee or a meal. I would recommend the nearby cafe/gift shop called “Jack” or you can take a short walk up the Newtownards Road to the unique, Narnia inspired, “Lampost“ restaurant

As you enjoy refreshment, you may meditate on your own mortality and think about the promise Aslan fulfils and Christ gives to all who trust in Him. We find it in the last sentence, in the last book in the Chronicles of Narnia. “All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”