Hidden behind tall hedges was the home of C.S. Lewis and his interesting entourage, a group that would have certainly produced entertaining content for a reality TV show. We walked through a space in the greenery, down a pebble walkway and stopped outside a forest green door with a festive wreath. The building was unassuming from the exterior and didn’t have any grand signs announcing the site’s significance which prompted our question, “Do people live here now?”.
People do live here now, which was made apparent when we toured the bedrooms that now contain the belongings of scholars-in-residence who use the space to further their academic studies. I was not bothered by the absence of original furnishings because we learned more about Lewis’ life from the tour guide than we would have from looking at museum plaques. There were symbolic features like the wool curtains representing the wartime blankets that were used as blackout curtains. Books insulated most of the rooms as they did while Lewis was alive, perhaps keeping the walls upright. Ceilings were painted yellow, not as a representation of a poor interior design choice but of nicotine stains.
Notable artifacts like the wardrobe that allegedly inspired The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe are stored at Wheaton College. However, an earlier sign for the Eagle & Child pub was still located at The Kilns. The pub was affectionately called the Bird & Baby by Lewis and fellow academics who frequented the establishment, to take part in intellectual conversations.
Our tour continued upstairs where conversation was lighthearted. Maureen Moore lived at The Kilns with her mother, C.S. Lewis, and Warren Lewis. Nobody really understood the relationship between C.S. Lewis and Mrs. Moore, but most thought it strange.
“One morning,” our guide remarked, “Maureen woke up and inherited the title of Lady Dunbar because the other heirs had passed away”.
“Like The Princess Diaries!”, Rachel said, “I’m still waiting for that to happen to me”.
We came to the rooms of Mrs. Moore and C.S. Lewis, separated only by a door which sparked our intrigue. What was the relationship between them? Could there be a history of scandal in these rooms? Did they keep the door locked while Lewis used an exterior staircase to access his bedroom? These questions would all be answered on next week’s episode of “Living with Lewis”, C.S. Lewis’ reality TV show featuring an exclusive interview with Mrs. Moore. At least, that’s what I hoped after leaving with so many questions about Lewis’ personal life. Curiosity was inspired by this historical home much like it inspired C.S. Lewis’ famous works.