CS Lewis and St. Mark's
Clive Staples Lewis, the notable Christian writer, was baptized in the font at the west end of the church on January 29th 1899 by his grandfather, the Rev. Thomas Hamilton, Rector of St. Mark's.
His entry in the baptism register is shown below:
We celebrated the centenary of his baptism (Link to the Baptistry) at Morning Service on Sunday 31st January 1999. The Address was given by The Rt. Rev. D.A.R. Caird M.A., D.D., L.L.D., H.Dip.Ed.
C S Lewis was called, almost against his will, to serve God by writing and speaking about 'mere Christianity', in philosophical books and science fiction, in childrens' stories and on the radio. Many thousands have heard and are hearing his message, for his books still sell in great numbers all over the world.
C S Lewis and his brother, Warren, known as 'Warnie' presented a window to the church in 1935 in memory of their father and mother. Three Saints are shown: two Gospel writers, St Mark and St Luke, on either side of St James. We may wonder why St James, the son of Zebedee, is the central figure. Perhaps because his shrine at Compostela in Spain was a mediaeval place of pilgrimage - the pilgrim's bag and staff and the pilgrim's badge, the scallop shell, shown in the window hint at this. But perhaps simply because Albert Lewis's second name was James. The Saint holds a silver chalice, similar to one which Albert and his family presented to the church in 1908 in memory of their father, Richard Lewis, engineer and shipbuilder, who lived nearby at Ty Isa, Parkgate Avenue, Belfast.
C S Lewis window
The Latin inscription below the window is translated:
To the greater glory of God and dedicated to the memory of Albert James Lewis, who died on the 25th September 1929, aged 67, and also of his wife, Flora Augusta Hamilton, who died on the 23rd August 1908, aged 47.
The two brothers, Warnie and Jack (as he had always been called, since the age of four years old) were very pleased with the window when they made a special journey to Belfast to see it completed. It was created by the Irish artist, Michael Healy (1873-1941), a member of the Tower of Glass, a well-known group of stained-glass window artists of the time.
The memorial window on the south side nearest the side chapel, is to the Rev Thomas Hamilton, first Rector of St Mark's (1826-1905). He was C S Lewis's grandfather and baptized him. Thomas Hamilton lived in what is now the old rectory situated on the south side of the church. His daughter, Flora, Lewis's mother, died when the boy Jack was only 9 years old and this grievous loss stayed with the grown man all his life.
The lectern with its open Bible - the eagle is the symbol of St John the Gospel writer and represents the word of God being carried on eagle's wings across the world. The Lectern was presented to the church by cousins of C S Lewis. The family sat in one of the front pews close to the pulpit, so the boy Jack would have been right under the eye of his grandfather, while he was preaching the sermon.
His wife, Mary Warren Heard, was a cousin and a dear friend of Flora Hamilton. So the Lewis boys were often invited to the Ewart's house, Glenmachan. C S Lewis in his autobiography, "Surprised by Joy" has much to say about the family. It was Cousin Mary, he records, who 'took upon herself the heroic work of civilising my brother and me'.
In this church and among these families young Jack Lewis grew up. After his mother's death, he was sent away to boarding school in England and his life was totally changed. Although as a young man he and his father grew apart, yet he never lost his fond memories of his childhood in Strandtown.