Tolkien News

Addison’s Walk, Oxford, in Pictures

On a beautiful May afternoon in Oxford I decided to take a stroll along Addison’s Walk in Magdalen College grounds. Addison’s Walk was a favourite of the author C.S. Lewis and Tolkien would often join him on his walks. I thought I’d take lots of pictures so those of you who can’t do the walk yourselves, can get a glimpse of what it’s like. Come join me.


As I walked along the High Street towards Magdalen I passed the Eastgate Hotel. Here Tolkien would often take lunch. He even lived in rooms next door on returning to Oxford after his wife Edith died.


Within a couple of minutes I was at Magdalen’s porters’  lodge and went through into the quad.


I turned right and walked past the chapel to the cloisters. The air was thick with the scent of wisteria which grows up the cloister walls. Wonderful!




From the cloisters I came to a path which led to the college grounds and there, on the right, was the gate to Addison’s Walk.



Going through the gate and across the stone bridge I looked back at Magdalen Tower. Addison’s Walk is a circular path and I set off in a clockwise direction.




Did Tolkien ever sit in this tree-stump chair?

He most certainly saw this bent tree branch.









The path turned to the right but I went to the left, over a stone bridge to the gates of the deer park. There on the wall is a stone engraved with the poem What the Bird Said Early in the Year by C.S. Lewis. For me this poem begins as something unremarkable and ends as something quite magical.








What the Bird Said Early in the Year
I heard in Addison’s Walk a bird sing clear:
This year the summer will come true. This year. This year.
Winds will not strip the blossom from the apple trees
This year nor want of rain destroy the peas.
This year time’s nature will no more defeat you.
Nor all the promised moments in their passing cheat you.
This time they will not lead you round and back
To Autumn, one year older, by the well worn track.
This year, this year, as all these flowers foretell,
We shall escape the circle and undo the spell.
Often deceived, yet open once again your heart,
Quick, quick, quick, quick! – the gates are drawn apart.



Returning to the path I came across this stone seat. I could imagine Tolkien and C.S. Lewis sitting here talking and taking in the lovely view across the meadow to Magdalen.
Walking on, the path again turned to the right but here I left it for a few moments to visit the Fellows’ Garden and look at Y by Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger. The tree-shaped sculpture was commissioned to celebrate the 550 anniversary of Magdalen College. It is 10 metres high and made of polished steel. I know this has nothing to do with Tolkien, but it was great to see!
I  returned to Addison’s Walk. The path now led by the side of the River Cherwell and there were plenty of people attempting to punt along it.  At the  top of the path was Magdalen Bridge with punts for hire. Following the path it again  turned to the right and within minutes I was back at the gates of Addison’s Walk and Magdalen.
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