Surprised by Belfast: Significant Sites in the Life of C.S. Lewis, Part 4, Queen’s University Belfast and the Surrounding Area - page 4


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From the Winter 2016 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

Surprised by Belfast: Significant Sites in the Life
of C.S. Lewis, Part 4, Queen’s University Belfast
and the Surrounding Area

by Sandy Smith, Ph.D.
Author of C.S. Lewis and the Island of His Birth

« continued from previous page

  The confusion had arisen because Lewis was referring to the curious tower above the church while his father had attended only to the reference to the Greek letters above the door. The church referenced is the Crescent Church in the University Quarter of Belfast.

Upper Crescent and College Park Belfast

  The other two buildings in that immediate area were associated with Lewis and his father at a different juncture of Lewis’s life. It is altogether a much darker period of their relationship and a period lacking in humor or other mitigating circumstances.
  In 1929 Lewis’s father, Albert, became unwell. The National Health Service was not in existence in Britain at that time and hospitals were not as well developed as they are today. In those days, between the two world wars, those who could afford to pay were often admitted into “nursing homes”—essentially large houses, adapted to provide private accommodation where patients could avail themselves to twenty-four-hour medical care by nurses trained to the best standards available at the time; patients were treated by doctors with skills considered appropriate to the diagnosed condition of the patient. Albert Lewis was admitted to and cared for in two such nursing homes. One was located in Upper Crescent, just across from the Crescent Church; the other was in College Park, just beside and visible from the McClay Library at QUB. In 1929 C.S. Lewis visited his father in Miss Bradshaw’s nursing home in College Park, and Albert’s burial record indicates that he died in Miss Wallace’s nursing home at Upper Crescent.
  Lewis gives us some insights into those difficult weeks of the summer of 1929, spent in Belfast with his father during his illness. The first surviving record that indicates something amiss with Albert’s health is a letter from C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves written July 25, 1929:

I have had bad news from home. First a letter from my Scotch uncle commenting on my father’s poor state of health … they suspect ‘something internal’ … Second, a letter from my cousin Joey to say that … they are putting him into a nursing home for inspection to-day … saying that they … suspect some inflammation.2

  This same letter also provides an insight into the difficulty Lewis experienced in coping with the situation. Most biographers and commentators note that the relationship between Lewis and his father was not totally relaxed or comfortable.

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