Northern Ireland's Narnia: On the CS Lewis trail in Belfast
Through the wardrobe
Did you know that CS Lewis was born in, and inspired by, Northern Ireland? Yvonne Gordon goes through the wardrobe in East Belfast.
10am: Grab a cuppa
JACK Coffee Bar (named after Lewis’s nickname) is at the EastSide Visitor Centre at CS Lewis Square. Browse the author’s books and learn about the area from information panels before taking a guided tour of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe sculptures and meet Mr Tumnus the faun, The White Witch and Aslan the lion. Don’t forget to peek inside the life-size wardrobe at The Searcher...
How: CS Lewis Square tours, £5/€5.50; eastsidepartnership.com
2pm: Northern Ireland's Narnia
See the blue plaque at 47 Dundela Avenue, where Clive Staples Lewis was born in 1898, and drop into the CS Lewis exhibition at Belmont Tower to see first editions of his novels, collections of letters and some of his academic work from Oxford. At the former rectory beside St Mark’s Church, where Lewis was christened, you can still see the lion-shaped doorknob said to have inspired the character of Aslan.
How: 2 Belmont Church Road; free, nationaltrust.org.uk; for tours of St Mark’s Church, see dundela.down.anglican.org
5pm: Take a walk
For more of the CS Lewis trail (download a copy at connswatergreenway.co.uk/trails) pass Campbell College, where CS Lewis boarded and where a gas lamp in the grounds (now private) is thought to have inspired the lamp in Narnia. At Little Lea on Circular Road, you can see the outside of the house where his family moved in 1905. Pass the Harland and Wolff cranes, and finish at the Linen Hall Library (linenhall.com) at Donegall Square, which has a collection of books by and about CS Lewis.
8pm: Cosy up in Crawfordsburn
Leave the city and cosy up for the evening at The Old Inn, Crawfordsburn, near the town of Bangor, just as CS Lewis did on honeymoon with his wife, Joy, in 1958. On return visits to Belfast, Lewis often met his literary friends here, and the restaurant is called Lewis in tribute. The oldest portion of the thatched inn dates from 1614.
How: Rooms from £180/€196 per night approximately. Dinner from £35/€38. See theoldinn.com for more.
The CS Lewis Festival takes place from November 18–22. Find the programme at eastsidearts.net/festivals. See also discovernorthernireland.com.