A story for Christmas.55 years and 85 million of books later, C.S.Lewis’s first part of the Seven Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, arrived with the aid of Computer Generated Images to our cinema screens, December 2005. The story concerns 4 children evacuated from London during World War 2 to a Professor’s rambling old house. Lucy, one of the children, discovers a room, empty except for a dead bluebottle and a huge wardrobe. Lucy, on entering the wardrobe, discovers she is standing on a soft, cold substance instead of the expected wooden floor, snow! Furthermore, she sees a light in the distance instead of the wooden backing to the wardrobe. Lucy is a very strong character, with definite links to The White Queen by Hans Christian Andersen. The World of Narnia consists of a century of winters and no Christmas, due to the evil powers of the White Witch. These children are liberated from their parents and are free to explore Narnia, unhindered. Children are the eventual rulers of Narnia, fulfilling the prophecy of the 2 daughters of Eve and the 2 sons of Adam defeating the White Witch and restoring the seasons and peace to Narnia. The last of the Narnia books, The Magician’s Nephew, describes the significance of the wardrobe. There is a hidden story in Narnia that adults do not perceive, almost philosophical, Aslan, the Lion, provides the narrative and the key. Could Aslan be Jesus? The final battle with centaurs, fawns and unicorns on one side and Hieronymus Bosch creations on the other heralded the triumph of good over evil.Clive Stapleton Lewis did not like his Christian names, when he was 4 years of age, growing up in Belfast, ‘Jacksie’ a Jack Russell Terrier was run over by a tram, C.S. adopted the name Jack henceforth. The Lewis family moved from Wales to Cork in 1850, then to Belfast. Lewis Senior was a Police Court Solicitor, in Belfast. C. S. Lewis was born in 1898, his mother died in 1908. Warren, his older brother was his best friend. Fortunately, his brother protected him from being bullied at boarding school in the U.K. C. S. Lewis met W.B.Yeats twice in Oxford, some of his romantic nationalism and Celtic mythology, clearly influenced him. J.R.R. Tolkien ‘Lord of the Rings’ was an Oxford colleague. A Treasury of Narnia and A Backward Glance are excellent published works cleverly chronicling the influence of Ireland on C.S. Lewis and elucidating how the Burren landscape was central to the story of The Silver Chair. C.S. Lewis’s maternal grandfather was a Church of Ireland Minister, clearly contributing to the Christian myth in Narnia.
The later life of C. S. Lewis is portrayed in the film Shadowlands, where he met and married the North American divorcee Joyce Gresham. C. S. Lewis was a devoted stepfather to Joyce’s two sons, he read Menelaus of the Yellow Hair, relating what happened when he returned with ‘Helen of Troy’ to Sparta, to his two stepsons, clearly examining relationship changes. C. S. Lewis induced laughter, a wry humour and was full of fun. The onset of modern screen technology has allowed the recreation of Narnia with live centaurs on screen! C. S. Lewis’s stepson, Douglas Gresham, oversees stage productions of Narnia worldwide and acted as co-producer for the film; he currently resides in Carlow. Recreating Narnia: - Belvedere House and park is an 18th century hunting and fishing lodge, on the shores of Lough Ennel, near Mullingar, Co Westmeath, Ireland. Built in 1740 by Robert Rochfort, the first Earl of Belvedere, the present Manager, was granted permission by the estate of C.S.Lewis and Harper Collins publishers, to recreate the fictional landscape of Narnia. The grounds are replete with Victorian lamp stands and several follies, including Ireland’s largest, the Jealous Wall, built by a jealous husband whose brother had an unwelcome interest in his wife; she was kept in a tower. The signage states sibling rivalry. Orienteers created a map of the house and park on which the topography of Narnia was superimposed, the Gothic Octagonal Gazebo became the Cair Pareval, the seat of the 4 human royals, (Aslan’s home) and the Gothic arch became the White Witch’s Castle. There is a half tonne Aslan, a Stone Table, many stone eagles and centaurs, there were 40 different creatures in C.S. Lewis’s book. Apparently, a colony of centaurs remains in New Zealand, where the film was made – courtesy of CGI. Belvedere is perfectly suited to Narnia. Children were able to enter Narnia through a wardrobe with an apple tree carved on the front. Belvedere is a wonderful Georgian Estate well worth a visit throughout the year.