Narnia Characters to be Carved Into Yorkshire Church Walls

St Mary’s Church, one of the oldest in the town of Beverly, will soon have characters from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis carved into its outside walls.

“We don’t have any pictorial evidence to show us what was there, so have no way of reconstructing the original carvings.[…] And so we decided to commission something new, to reflect more recent times.”

Roland Deller, Director of development

Aslan, Tumnus, The White Witch, Reepicheep, Fledge, and Glenstorm are among the 14 characters that have been chosen.

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29 Responses

  1. Fledge says:

    That’s kind of strange…a church is carving Narnia figures into their walls? Well, I guess there isn’t anything wrong with that, but a little strange all the same. Especially the White Witch. I mean, the more Narnia there is around, the better!

  2. Col Klink says:

    I don’t believe they should use secular images as part of church decoration. But whatever.

    • Nick says:

      They’re not secular images though. C.S. Lewis wrote the Chronicles to be allegorical treatments of Christian theology, you can see Christian themes and values very clearly displayed all through the stories.

      • Col Klink says:

        There are a lot of books with Christian themes but it doesn’t mean the books aren’t secular. I’m sure a google search will confirm for you that the publisher of the series isn’t affiliated with any Church.

        The Catholic Church hasn’t officially sanctioned Narnia as part of its Tradition and none of the books are part of the biblical canon. That doesn’t mean they don’t have Christian themes but there’s a difference between having Christian themes and being part of Christianity. Does that make sense?

    • Grace Twinn says:

      It is not secular. It is based on the Bible. Read C.S. Lewis and you will see. Read before you speak.

      • Col Klink says:

        I actually have read the books several times. 😉 And not everything in the books is really based on the Bible. (I’m not even sure the author, C.S. Lewis believed in the infallibility of the scriptures.) There are plenty of elements exist to provide comedic relief, to make the story more suspenseful to read, to add aesthetic beauty, etc. That doesn’t mean they don’t represent a Christian philosophy/message. But you can’t really say they’re not secular. Why else would they be sold in secular book stores or be enjoyed by secular reads?

      • Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

        I mean, if Narnia being sold in secular book stores and enjoyed by secular readers make a book secular, wouldn’t the reverse (sold in religious books stores and enjoyed by religious readers) make Narnia religious?

        Either way, what interests me is a lot of books and movies have a lot of Biblical allegory (Harry Potter, Star Wars, His Dark Materials, Lord of the Rings, the Matrix, and Superman to name a few). I’m curious if the people who like the Narnia statue idea would also like it were any of these other franchises and why/why not?

        Please note I’m NOT saying anyone’s opinions are wrong, nor am I trying to start (Aslan forbid) a twitter war, I am just interested if anyone would like to share their thoughts

      • AslanNarnia says:

        In Star Wars when they say “May the force be with you” it is very close to the ancient salutation and blessing “Dominus vobiscum” which means the Lord be with you.

        Found in Ruth 2:4, Samuel 17:37, Samuel 14:17, Amos 5:14, Thessalonians 3:16, Joshua 1:17, Samuel 20:13, Chronicles 36:23, Exodus 10:10.

        I always find it disrespectful when I hear it in the films. Particularly as George Lucas hasn’t openly admitted to Star Wars being a Christian story based on biblical teachings unlike CS Lewis who did with the Narnia adventures.

        I don’t think Harry Potter, His Dark Materials or the others you mention have a shred of biblical allegory. Until their creators say they do and to a very high degree then it is all secular.

  3. Lord_Kappa says:

    Thanks for this ingesting report, GlumPuddle! It’s certainly an interesting little something to bring up over tea with a friend.

  4. Skilletdude says:

    I really like Narnia, but I don’t like it enough to celebrate something like this. Did you know there’s an actual sculpture of Darth Vader’s head on the outside of the Washington National Cathedral? When I was 12 years old, that was exciting. Now I just find it inappropriate.

    • JFG II says:

      Yeah it’s weird…

      Dude I’ve lived in D.C my whole life. Went to the Cathedral many times. Also a big Star Wars fan. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard about Gargoyle Vader. 😉

      Irreverent art for not-so-reverent times, I suppose.

  5. Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

    This leaves a funny taste in my mouth… I tried a quick google search and I don’t see it having any sort of specific connection with C.S. Lewis? Also, I’m not by any means an expert on Lewis but I’m not sure he’d love this being in a church

    Narnia getting recognition is fun but I think a library or a park/garden would maybe be a better place for this.

  6. coracle says:

    It seems that there used to be figures carved in, but they have been weathered and lost. Beverley is very close to the east coast of Yorkshire, with weather patterns off the North Sea (check a map).
    I would guess that they talked about having new figures, and wanted to avoid some of the more pagan characters that were used in cathedrals and churches in the past – would you add a gargoyle to your church today? 🙂
    Narnia has such close links with Christian faith, and I daresay it would attract many visitors.

    • Cleander says:

      I’m fine with seeing Narnia carvings on a church I guess, given that they can be seen as symbolic. AND the more Narnia statues around, the better!

  7. EH says:

    I like that Narnia is getting recognition… but shouldn’t the statues be of saints? Or were the original statues gargoyles? Maybe I’m just not familiar with the church sculptures of England. If there was a close connection between the church and Lewis it could make sense. As much as I love Narnia it’s not the Bible, and it would be weird (in the USA at least) to have Narnian characters on a church building. However I’d rather see Narnians than gargoyles and it will be nice to see the finished art.

  8. Courtenay says:

    I’m amazed so many of the comments here are negative or at least ambivalent… I think that’s a fantastic idea, and I’m saying that as a committed churchgoer myself! It’s actually pretty standard for medieval (and older) churches in Britain to have carvings of mythological or non-Biblical figures and creatures — gargoyles, “green men”, animals and so on. The Narnian characters fit into that tradition very well while having a very definite connection to Christianity, so why not??

    By the way, the parish church at Headington Quarry near Oxford already has a pair of windows with engraved figures from all the Chronicles of Narnia (and with the word NARNIA at the top, too, just to make it explicit) — because that was C.S. Lewis’s own local church that he attended regularly. So what St Mary’s of Beverly is doing isn’t unprecedented. I say good on ’em… now I need to fit in a trip to East Yorkshire to see the carvings for myself, once they’re done!

    • Skilletdude says:

      “I’m amazed so many of the comments here are negative or at least ambivalent…”

      Maybe a part of it is some Christians don’t particularly respond well to religious statues or carvings in churches since they see it as a potential for idolatry. And since Narnia is obviously not on par with Scripture, this just complicates it further.

      • EH says:

        That may be it. When I was little, I was given a small framed artist’s drawing of Jesus at church. I brought it home and my mom worried that I would make it an idol. She let me keep it, but I was lectured against idolatry.
        Now that I’m older I’ve attended a older church that had stained-glass windows and loved looking at them. It still avoided depicting humans, though. Maybe this is an American Protestant thing?
        I do remember, though, that when I was a kid, that seeing a crucifix really got me thinking more deeply at Jesus’ sacrifice in a way that I had not before. I think it is so easy to veer too far in one direction or the other in terms of trying to connect Christianity to the local culture. If it is standard in England to have these kinds of statues, then I guess it is a good idea to have Narnian statues at a church.

      • Courtenay says:

        I’m afraid it must be “an American Protestant thing”, as EH suggests in the comment below. I’ve lived in Britain for many years now and I can assure you no British Christians would be the slightest bit worried about having statues or carvings in churches — we’ve had plenty of those here for over 9 centuries (and well over 1,000 years for the Celtic Christians), regularly including figures that are not Biblical. It really is not the least bit irreligious or sacrilegious to most of the Christian world.

    • Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

      It may have to do with culture and experience, like I’m from the midwest of America, so not too many old churches around me. The building my church uses used to be a private school, pretty unassuming and no steeple or stained glass or statues, so that may be why I think Narnia statues would be a little odd.

  9. Geekicheep says:

    Now granted I’m not a Catholic, so I won’t pretend to understand the significance of gargoyles or statues in a church (in every church I’ve been to, they usually just have a cross, if that). But from that perspective, I think it’s a blessing in disguise. Yes, Narnia is fictional, and yes maybe a library would be a better place. But newcomers may not be able to look at a statue and know, “oh, that’s the Apostle Paul” or “that must be St. Patrick”. Those guys all look very similar in every artist’s rendition I’ve ever seen. But many more are likely to know Narnia. And more importantly, Narnia represents the battle between good and evil, emphasizing Jesus in a memorable way. So IMO not a bad thing. But what do I know? 😀

  10. Larry W. says:

    I would like to see the Dawn Treader carved into the church’s walls with Lucy, Edmund, and King Caspian in it. Or how about Mr. Tumus and Puddleglum as statues, which could really be artistic. I think it’s a great idea. 🙂

    • JFG II says:

      VDT Eustace & Reep? 🙂

      • Larry W. says:

        Yes, Reepicheep and Eustace could be included too. I think I read somewhere that Lewis’ own church has stained glass windows with Narnia pictures on them. They must really look beautiful when the sun shines through them. 🙂

    • Courtenay says:

      Hi Larry — this is in answer to your other comment, which doesn’t have a reply button. Lewis’s own local church, in Headington Quarry, does have two Narnia windows, but they’re etched glass, not stained glass, so they don’t have any colours in them. They are beautifully done, though. I’ve seen them and thought they would look better in colour, but I suppose stained glass might have been too expensive to commission.