by James O’Fee
The Norman knight William de Warenne was one of the most powerful of
William the Conqueror’s barons. (His bones lie in Battle Abbey.) De
Warrenne was given lands in Sussex. He built Lewes (sic) Castle and is
buried (I think) in Lewes Priory. (I lived in Lewes for a while, the county
town of East Sussex.) William de Warenne married Gundreda, reputed to be a
bastard daughter of William the Conqueror (how else would she have gained
so rich a husband?). Though Gundreda, wife of William de Warenne, C. S.
Lewis was descended from William the Conqueror and Charlemagne!
The Warrens established an Irish branch quite early in County Cork. Through
the aristocratic Warren connection, C. S. Lewis was also descended from the
Plantagenet Kings of England, Kings of France, of Scots, and Princes of
Wales. And from the Founder of Clare College, Cambridge. Not bad for
someone who once said he came from ‘Welsh farming stock’.
Gundreda Ewart, cousin of C. S. Lewis, was named after Gundreda de
Warrenne. C. S. Lewis called his cousin “the most beautiful woman I have
ever seen” (‘Surprised by Joy’, Chap III, p 42). The daughter of Gundreda
Ewart, Primrose Henderson last summer guided a party of American visitors
around St Mark’s church; and Mrs Henderson has given the C. S. Lewis
Centenary Group an outline family tree of the Warren family. The tree is
now lodged in the C. S. Lewis Archive, in the Public Record Office,