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© 2010 Festival in the Shire Journal. All rights reserved.

Tolkien's Places

Addison's Walk (originally called Water Walk) is a picturesque footpath around a small island in the River Cherwell in the grounds of Magdalen College, Oxford. There are good views of Magdalen Tower and Bridge from along the walk as well as the riverside views. It provides some of the best views of the "dreaming spires" one can obtain at ground level in Oxford. The walk extends into Magdalen Grove, where you might catch a glimpse of one of the 40 deer grazing there. The flowing blankets of rare white and purple fritillaria and other flowers also make this walk the most romantic in Oxford in the right season.

The Walk is named after Joseph Addison   (1672–1719), a Fellow of Magdalen College from 1698 to 1711, who enjoyed walking there and wrote articles in The Spectator about landscape gardening.  The path most likely dates from the 16th century, although the name "Addison's Walk" has only been in use since the 19th century. Addison's Walk originally finished at Dover Pier, an old Civil War  gun position on the River Cherwell. It was made into a circular walk in the 19th century. The walk is referenced frequently in Justin Catrwright’s novel  The Song Before it is Sung

It is also the walk on which famously JRR Tolkien and his friend Hugo Dyson went with CS Lewis their friend who was at the time an agnostic – by the end of the walk that evening in the 1930’s Tolkien and Dyson had convinced ‘Jack’ (CS Lewis) of the Truth of the Christian faith, and from that moment Great Things began to happen.


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