Students inspire Narnia carvings

22nd July 2020 4:06pm - Return to press releases

Students inspire Narnia carvings

St Mary’s Church in Beverley has announced that new stone carvings on the exterior of the building will feature fourteen characters from the ever-popular children’s books, The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis.

“For centuries there were carvings in these spaces on the outside walls,” explains Roland Deller, Director of Development, “but over time they have weathered away completely. 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.”

Foundation course students from East Riding College studying for a BTEC Art and Design Diploma were invited to visit the church. They studied the historic carvings around the building, learned about the practicalities of stone craftsmanship, and were then asked, as an assessed part of their course, to create their own designs inspired by stories and legends that would resonate with people today.

“The students were so enthused by the project,” says Roland Deller, “and their designs were wonderful. We were particularly struck by Mel Watkins’ drawing of Mr Tumnus the faun, and it got us thinking that we could commission a whole series of Narnia carvings inspired by this design.”

One of the drawings by East Riding College student, Mel Watkins

As well as Mr Tumnus, the other characters featured in the new carvings will include the White Witch, Reepicheep the mouse, Fledge the winged horse, Glenstorm the centaur, and of course Aslan the lion. The CS Lewis Company Ltd granted permission for the carvings to be based on these characters, and the highly competitive tender for carrying out of the work was won by Matthias Garn Master Mason & Partner, with the designs by Kibby Schaefer. Matthias is also an advocate for the system of apprenticeship, training and employing the next generation of stonemasons and carvers, and he took time to visit the college students and talk to them about his craft.

It was the image of the faun Mr Tumnus – half man and half goat – standing with his parcels under the iconic lamppost, which was also CS Lewis’ own starting point for writing the books. He dreamt up this scene when he was a teenager and it stuck with him for almost thirty years before he expanded it into the stories now loved round the world.

“For many children at the moment, facing lockdown, it would be wonderful to find a magical world where they make friends and have adventures, and so the story has much resonance for today,” says St Mary’s vicar Becky Lumley. “Indeed, it was taking three evacuees from London into his own home during the war that inspired CS Lewis to write The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – which of course starts with Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy being evacuated to Professor Kirk’s house in the countryside, where they find the famous wardrobe… Our children today are in a very different kind of lockdown from that of the Second World War but they too need to imagine new possibilities and hope.”


You can find the full article on St Mary’s website and the new Narnia section of their site