CS Lewis Web
The Lewis Legacy-Issue 76, Spring 1998
Kilnswatch: Early History of the Kilns Property
By: Kathryn Lindskoog
The C. S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing
March 1, 1998

According to an Ordnance Survey Map of 1880, the Kilns property included a large clay pit from which clay was dug for processing in the two brick kilns that stood nearby, flanked by a very small house for the brickworker. There would also have been a roofed, open-sided shed for drying the bricks before firing them.

The two cone-shaped brick kilns were not used after the First World War, when life changed in many ways. The time had come for brickmaking to be mechanised and centralized. One by one, the many small brickworks that had dotted the landscape closed down. That change motivated landowners to gentrify such areas.

In a new 1921 Ordnance Survey Map the features on the Kilns property were the same as in 1880, but the property itself was expanded to the east. Some time after 1921 the brickworker's small house was enlarged on the north and south elevations.

The brick house that was destined to make this property famous was built there in 1925. It was approached by a 300-foot driveway of hard-packed gravel. The woodland in front of the house included two ponds created by the clay excavation. At some point an orchard was planted, a tennis court was installed, and a greenhouse was built south of the orchard. Along with such middle-class amenities came the middle-class custom of gracing a house with a descriptive name. Hence, "The Kilns."

In 1928 a small brick and stucco cottage was built on the property, evidently the one where Fred Paxford was destined to live.

"The eight-acre garden is such stuff as dreams are made of." Warren wrote this in his diary on 7 July 1930, the day after he and his brother first saw The Kilns. "[We] spent an enthusiastic half hour building castles in Spain and rambling about the grounds, both agreeing that we simply must have the place if it is any way possible."