C.S. Lewis "Space Trilogy"

These three first Pan editions of the Space Trilogy by Headington author, C.S. Lewis, are in our History of Headington collection.

The first book in the trilogy is Out of the Silent Planet (1938), which is set mostly on Mars (called "Malacandra"). In this book, the protagonist Elwin Ransom journeys to Mars to discover that Earth is exiled from the rest of the solar system. A long time ago, it fell to an angelic being known as the Bent Oyarsa, and now, to prevent contamination of the rest of the Solar System (known as "The Field of Arbol"), it is called "the silent planet" (or "Thulcandra").

The next book is Perelandra (1943), which is set mostly on Venus. In this book, Elwin Ransom travels to an unspoiled Venus in which the first humanoids have just emerged.

The final book is That Hideous Strength (1945), which is set on Earth. On Earth, a scientific think tank called the N.I.C.E. (The National Institute of Co-ordinated Experiments) is secretly in touch with demonic entities who plan to ravage and lay waste to planet Earth.

Clive Staples Lewis (1898–1963) was connected to Headington from June 1921, when his close friend, Janie Moore, and her daughter, moved to "Uplands" at 54 Windmill Road. Headington was his permanent home from 1929 when he purchased "The Kilns" in Risinghurst with his brother, Major Warren Lewis. The extensive grounds of this house, which was then out in the country, provided the inspiration for the Chronicles of Narnia, which started off as a tale told to children evacuated there from London in 1939. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe was published nine years later in 1948.

He lived at The Kilns until his death in 1963.


Oxfordshire Hook and Spike Clock

This 18th century Oxfordshire Quaker Hook and Spike Clock is part of our local history collection.

Quakerism arrived in Banbury, Oxfordshire during the 1650s, and quickly established itself in the rural area to the west and south of the town during the second half of the seventeenth century.

A group of Quaker blacksmith turned clockmakers emerged, in the form of the Gilkes family of Sibford Gower and later the Fardons of Deddington, who went on, through their descendants, relatives and apprentices, to dominate the craft and create a clockmaking tradition that was to last throughout the eighteenth century. During this time they produced one of the most iconic styles of English country clockmaking - the iron posted hook and spike clock with the distinctive ring and zig-zag engraved dials. Their work is recognisable by the fact that the dials of their clocks were decorated with concentric circles of rings of 'wrigglework' engraving, a kind of decorative engraving that could be done by an engraving tool held in a brace by someone who was not a skilled freehand engraver.

Certain groups of Quaker clockmakers felt that to sign one's name on possessions, or on manufactured products, was a mark of vanity. They felt that when a Quaker died, all trace of his or her existence should be totally lost; therefore some Quaker clockmakers did not sign their clocks.

Thecosmilia Fossil

These fragments of Thecosmilia Fossil were found at Rock Edge in Headington, and are part of our History of Headington collection.

Rock Edge is a remnant of the limestone quarries formerly worked extensively throughout Headington. The rocks exposed in the cliff face are of Upper Jurassic age, around 140-150 million years old.
It is the site of a former coral patch reef, where fossilised corals and mollusc shells can be seen. Towards the north-eastern end it becomes more layered with cemented limestones containing small ooliths (tiny rounded grains) and broken shell fragments. These represent the sandy sea-floor environment around the former coral reef.

Corals are invertebrate animals belonging to a large group of colourful and fascinating animals called Cnidaria. Other animals in this group that you may have seen in rock pools or on the beach include jelly fish and sea anemones. Thecosmilia is an extinct type of stony corals that lived from the Jurassic to the Cretaceous age.




Roman Mortarium Fragment

This is a fragment of a Roman mortarium from our Local History collection. It was excavated from the site of the Churchill Hospital in Headington.

It is a piece of Oxfordshire "whiteware"; this was a type of pottery that was extensively distributed in the south during the third century. Large numbers of pottery kilns have been excavated in south and east Oxford. The numbers have suggested to some archaeologists an "industrial zone". The kilns cluster around the Roman road linking the towns of Dorchester-on-Thames and Alchester, near Bicester. The road by-passed central Oxford, an area of rural settlement in Roman times, to the east.

The potters produced high-quality, durable domestic ware for kitchen and table. They used the pure white clay of Shotover Hill, just east of the modern ring-road and south of the road to London.

A mortarium is a large vessel which was lined with grit or iron stone that was used to grind spices and herbs for food preparation. These mortaria were a well-known product of the kilns; the potters used quartz sand from sources such as Boars Hill to the west, probably crossing the River Thames at the site of the modern Donnington Bridge.