Step into Narnia at Dorchester Abbey later this year

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DORCHESTER Abbey is being transformed into Narnia for an interactive exhibition and series of events this winter.

Visitors will walk through a rail of hanging coats to the cloisters, where the lack of heating and stone walls will contribute to the chilly, wintery feel of the beginning of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Before this they will have already been through an evacuation scene with gas masks and replica ration books from World War 2, recreating the experience of the child evacuees, Lucy, Peter, Edmund and Susan Pevensie, the main characters in the classic story.

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Fit for a queen: Margaret tries out one of the thrones as she prepares to transform Dorchester Abbey into Narnia.

“CS Lewis hosted evacuated children in his home in the Kilns in Oxford,” said Margaret Craig, the Abbey’s education officer. “He bought them fish and chips every so often and would take them to Blackwells to buy them books.” Margaret has been planning the exhibition, complete with workshops and culminating in a concert for schools, for 18 months.

Snow will gradually deplete as visitors move around zones, including Mr Tumnus’s sitting room, Mr and Mrs Beaver’s House, a sleigh for the White Witch and a large-scale lion’s head to represent Aslan. The exit will be through another ‘wardrobe’ of hung coats.

All ages are welcome to the free Tuesday workshops on 13 and 20 September and 4 and 11 October to make Aslan Sculptures and magic snowflakes. Schools are also welcome to book visits.

The exhibition runs from October 22 to November 22, 9am to 4.30pm. A closing schools concert is on November 22, 6.30 to 8.30pm.

Wanted: Margaret would still like to find a couple of old standard lamps, old rugs and coats, fairy lights, play crowns, swords and shields, an arm chair, bows and arrows, and various other bits and pieces. Volunteers are also needed for school groups and half term/ weekend visits, including anyone who fancies acting as an adult character from the book. For more information see www.dorchester-abbey.org.uk or email education@dorchester-abbey.org.uk

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