Walking Through the Wardrobe by Sandra Horn

My earliest memory of the Narnia stories is watching a cartoon version of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with my little daughter and my mother. I thought it would probably be awful, but in fact it wasn’t. The artwork was delightful and it was well narrated. At the point where the knife is poised above Aslan, my daughter burst into tears and cried out, ‘oh, don’t hurt him!’ ‘Turn it off!’ said my mother, ‘it’s upsetting her!’  I didn’t because it was crucial to see it through to the end, all tears dried.  I found the other books in the series progressively harder going but I know plenty of people who love all of them. Forty years on, I found myself walking through a wardrobe into a snow-covered landscape and that lamp post. It was completely enchanting.

This was at Mottisfont House, a local NT property, once a priory and later converted into a manor house. It contains, among other delights, a Rex Whistler room with trompe l’oeil devices. For Christmas, the house was dressed as a Narnia trail. It was so well, done, from the boys’ bedroom to the frosty trees and the feast.The original watercolour illustrations from the book were on display in the gallery, borrowed from the academic institution in America which now houses them. There were no children there as it was still school term time, but there was a small, excited crowd of young women eagerly scanning the pictures and fitting them to their memories of the story with such pleasure.


                                                        photograph by Christine Kalus

The grounds at Mottisfont have a walled garden with a superb collection of old-fashioned roses; a riverside walk – a tributary of the Test, I think – where brown trout slither between the waterweeds and startlingly blue dragonflies dart about in the summer.


                                                                photograph by Christine Kalus

 There is also Mott’s font, an ever-bubbling spring, probably named for one of the Brothers in the original priory. On the day that we were there, mist was rising from the water and the sun was shining through it. For me, for all the delights of the house, this was the magic. The quiet music of the spring, the mist and the sunlight, were the enchanted land.


                                                                photograph by Niall Horn


Tomorrow is the Winter solstice:


 Here’s the Midwinter Moon

Rising up. And up

Up to her zenith

Turning the tides as the year turns,

Turns towards light,

As the moon turns to shadow.


A micro-version of this poem will be on the Paper Swans Press online advent calendar tomorrow.


Happy Christmas, one and all!


Sandra Horn said…
So I'll just post my own comment. It's a bit short, Sandra, but the photographs are great. Perhaps you could have developed the Narnia theme more.
Sandra Horn said…
Yes, I know, but I'm so tired, it was the best I could do. I'm having a bad patch with the mlc and it's wearing me out. Cut me some slack, please.
LyzzyBee said…
This is particularly lovely because my cousin is going to see this this week and now I know more about it - so thank you!
Sandra Horn said…
Thank you LyzzyBee! Ihope your cousin loves it.

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