Awkward Stairway Appears, Disappears, Now Reappears?

The Lewis Legacy-Issue 75, Winter 1998 The C. S. Lewis Foundation for Truth in Publishing

An Oxford researcher has checked the Ordnance Survey maps of the Kilns neighborhood, and the Kilns had no outside staircase in 1921 or 1936. (O/S maps are made only in times of major rebuilding or rerouting.)

A stairway was added to the east wall after 1936, and it appears on the 1957 O/S map. It led from C. S. Lewis’s bedroom to a spot just outside the side door. (The Kilns bathroom was just inside that door.) The outdoor stairway gave C. S. Lewis access to and from his bedroom without going through Janie Moore’s bedroom. (See p. 20.)

It was evidently when The Kilns was refurbished by the Thirsk family (who bought it from Janie Moore’s daughter Maureen in 1973) that the aberrant stairway was removed and its doorway was sealed off. Its ungainly location above the side door is still obvious from the outside.

Stanley Mattson decided to restore the door and staircase, which he listed as an item that donors could choose to subsidize: suggested stairway donations, $1000. Sayer believes the stairway is evidence of the end of the clandestine Moore/Lewis relationship that Maureen revealed to him, but Mattson sees it quite differently.

The latest step in the stairway saga appeared in “The House Where Jack Wrote,” a puff piece for Mattson’s Foundation in the January/February 1998 issue of Christian Reader magazine. According to that article, in 1985 “In the same bedroom, there was a large door that opened to a fifteen-foot drop to the pavement below. I asked Jean about it. ‘That door? It used to have a spiral staircase. Jack had it built so he could leave for a morning swim in the pond without disturbing the rest of the household.'”

Something is spiralling, all right, but it’s not a stairway.