A former home of C.S. Lewis has been put up for sale, sparking fears from locals and campaigners that it could be torn down.
14 Holyoake Road, known as ‘Hillsboro’ and owned by Yatsden Limited, has now been put up for sale for £1.6 million as land for potential re-development by estate agents Elwood and Company and Strutt and Parker.
Strutt and Parker’s website claims that the property is “a prime re-development opportunity” and that it “offers huge potential”. But concern has grown among locals and C.S. Lewis experts, including Ronald Brind, who has written e-books about the author and run C.S. Lewis themed tours of Oxford, that the house may be knocked down and replaced.
Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, and noted Christian apologist, taught English at Magdalen for almost three decades, and lived at the property in Headington from 1922 to 1930. During his time at the property,the author abandoned atheism and began his conversion to Christianity.
He lived there with a friend until they and Lewis’ brother Warnie moved to the Kilns, also located in Headington, where Lewis lived until his death in 1963. Tourists in Headington interested in C.S. Lewis can book tours of the Kilns and the surrounding nature reserve. His legacy is also honoured in the sculpture of Aslan in Bury Knowle Park’s Storybook Tree.
14 Holyoake Road, however, does not receive as much tourist attention, is not a listed building, and most recently was home to a chiropractor’s clinic until its closure earlier this year.
Josh Peppiatt, President of the Oxford Inter-Collegiate Christian Union (OICCU), told The Oxford Student that he believes that “if conserving the house will help people engage with Lewis’ life and his faith in Jesus, I would support it being saved,” noting that “while living in this house, his good friend JRR Tolkien helped him to know Jesus, and he became a Christian.” However, Peppiatt also argued that there are other ways to help preserve the author’s legacy, suggesting that “I think the best way to honour his legacy is to continue to do what he was most passionate about: telling people the good news of Jesus.”