Destruction of Narnia - Protest Letters
Trust 'destroying the real
Courtesy: The Oxford Times 31 March 2006. www.theoxfordtimes.net
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, known as "the
real Narnia," is now a nature reserve.
But Narnia has come under attack from chain saws,
insists the man who organises Oxford C.S. Lewis Tours. And he
says the local wildlife trust BBOWT is to blame.
Ronald 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.
But the wildlife trust, which own the C. S. Lewis
Reserve, strongly defended their work which is part of a long
term strategy to deter vandals and make the reserve more accessible
Mr Brind was a boyhood friend of Lewis's 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 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.
With the Walt Disney version of the classic book
certain to renew visitor interest in Lewis this summer, one
local resident commented: "The wood looks dreadful. I suppose
it will get better in time. But they are destroying mature trees
which Lewis himself would have known."
BBOWT said local people had been consulted about
a strategy to clean up the reserve after repeated problems with
vandals, rubbish dumping and scramble bikes.
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 of The Oxford Times www.theoxfordtimes.net
Note from Ron Brind:
This is typical of what I am up against. I believe these people
are nothing more than environmental 'do-gooders' who are prepared
to destroy our history, without any consideration for brothers
Clive Staples and Warren Hamilton Lewis, who lived at the Kilns
for over 30 years, and poet Shelley who was believed to have
meditated there, and sailed paper boats on the lake. It is the
very reason we must continue to fight for control of this important
site, regardless of how long it takes. One day I hope we will
be able to open up the whole of the site, having restored it
to what it was whilst Jack and Warnie were living there, to
visitors the world over. This is part of Britains Christian
Heritage, and I want it back for future generations!
Response to The Oxford Times, and The Oxford
Mail re Trust 'destroying the real Narnia'.
I read with great interest the article about "Narnia
under threat" (The Oxford Times, March 31 2006). A personal
visit to the C.S. Lewis Nature Reserve confirmed the scene as
described by Ronald Brind. The destruction I witnessed was breathtaking!
An entire row of trees embracing the path now gone; remnants
of an exquisite tree at least 15 inches in circumference waiting
to be chopped up while squirrels scampered over their former
home; ancient vines which had hugged sycamore trees now lying
in piles for kindling. There can be absolutely no excuse for
this ravishing of the woods. How on earth will destroying trees
prevent vandalism and at what cost? The inane remark of Sophie
Lewis about Mr. Brind only wanting a lovely place to take American
tourists reveals how off the mark she and the BBOWT truly are.
The primary concern of the British as well as the American people
should be the preservation of wildlife areas, not their wanton
destruction. Shame on the BBOWT!
Wiggenhall St. Germans
Please add me to the list of protestors in the
cutting of the "real Narnia", I plan to visit with
my children next year. They have been reading the Chronicles
of Narnia in their public school here in Texas. Our own forests
are being logged at an alarming rate and the effect is devastating,
as well as heartbreaking to see.
Jimi Green, RN
Marshall Regional Medical Center
811 S. Washington
Marshall, TX 75670