Oxford Centenary Stone

'Magdalen College Chapel was packed to overflowing for a special Evensong on May 13th 1998, prior to the unveiling of the Lewis stone in Addison's Walk. The Magdalen Choir sang as an introit 'Veni Sancte Spiritus', the opening music of Richard Attenborough's 'Shadowlands'. (The composer, George Fenton, happened, by a fortunate coincidence, to be present to hear it. He was at Magdalen to supervise the Choir's recording of some new music for his most recent soundtrack.) During the service, lessons were read by Lewis's godson, Laurence Harwood, and by Lady Freud, who was an evacuee at The Kilns during the war. The Dean of Divinity, the Revd. Dr. Michael Piret, in his prayers quoted from Lewis's works and gave thanks for Lewis's life. He also prayed for peace in Lewis's native Northern Ireland. (Dr Piret is a former President of the Oxford Lewis Society.) After the service was over, the congregation adjourned to Addison's Walk, which was looking especially beautiful in the evening sunlight, - though only a few weeks previously it had been completely under water in the April floods.

The commemorative tablet is a circle of Westmorland green slate about three feet in diameter, designed by stonemason Alec Peever, and erected a stone's throw from Lewis's rooms in the New Building. Michael Ward, the Centenary Secretary of the Oxford Lewis Society, welcomed everyone and spoke for a few minutes about the place Addison's Walk held in Lewis's life and about the poem, 'What the Bird Said Early in the Year', which has been inscribed on the tablet.

The President of Magdalen, Mr Anthony Smith, then unveiled the stone, and Walter Hooper, Lewis's biographer, recited the poem to the gathering. Among the eighty or so invited guests were former pupils of Lewis such as Francis Warner (now a don at St Peter's College, Oxford) and Martin Moynihan (editor of Lewis's Latin letters). A drinks reception in the President's Lodgings brought the evening's events to their conclusion.'

Michael Ward (Oxford University C. S. Lewis Society)

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