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Destruction of Narnia - Protest Letters

Trust 'destroying the real Narnia'
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 to visitors.

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!

Christina Grazer
Bank Cottage
Wiggenhall St. Germans
01553 617-498

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
Trauma Coordinator
Marshall Regional Medical Center
811 S. Washington
Marshall, TX 75670
(903) 927-6790

Save Narnia

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