CHILDREN got the chance to use their artistic skills to contribute to re-creating Narnia at Dorchester Abbey.

Pupils at the Abbey Woods Academy in Berinsfield spent an afternoon creating a huge lion’s head, which will represent the character Aslan from The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe – the most famous book of the seven-strong fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia, by CS Lewis.

Aslan's head will be part of the exhibition

Aslan’s head will be part of the exhibition.

Margaret Craig, the education officer at Dorchester Abbey, visited the classroom where she was joined by teachers, volunteers and the Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher, for the afternoon craft-session.

“The lion symbolises empowerment.”

“The lion symbolises empowerment,” said Margaret, explaining how she could show the children how to think of the lion as a sign of strength and resilience.

She had chosen a school in the village because it is named Beren, which is the old name for Birinus. St Birinus was the first Bishop of Dorchester. The word’ ‘field’ was added because the site was a US airfield in the Second World War. St Birinus is celebrated at Dorchester Abbey, where there is a shrine dedicated to him in the south aisle.

Bishop Colin chats to the children about their craftwork

Bishop Colin chats to the children about their craftwork

The shrine is just one of many interesting artefacts in the historic abbey, which is a venue for many exhibitions and concerts, as well as regular worship. Previous exhibitions have featured angels, including an angel trail through the abbey and Light – A Spiritual Journey offering visitors a mini-pilgrimage with footage from the Hubble Space Telescope and original artwork and music.

Narnia was also the theme of an exhibition when the magical kingdom was recreated and visitors were invited to step through the wardrobe into the wintery world. Margaret told the children about the exhibition as she introduced the afternoon with a presentation. She showed them the Narnia window from Holy Trinity, Headington Quarry, where CS Lewis worshipped. She then asked the children: “Why did CS Lewis make Aslan a lion? Animals are used as symbols and lions are the king of the beasts.”

Children answered that lions are brave, fearless and strong, while also appearing, in photographs to be cute, fluffy and adorable. If you didn’t know they were dangerous you would want to cuddle one.
After the talk, they went on to the craft activities, using a variety of materials to create a lion’s mane, construct the shape of the head, and making smaller, card lions they could take home with them.

Margaret encouraged them to visit the Narnia event at the Abbey, which will be an interactive exhibition running from 11 January 2020 to 8 March 2020.