Thursday, April 29, 2010

Will and Lyra's Bench

I know that by now, this is hardly an original post, but given that I am reading Wolf Hall and it will probably take me until 2020 to finish it, so thought I would write about this in the mean time. The day I discovered that Will and Lyra's bench existed. Seriously? Yep, I didn't know it was real. So when I found myself on a train to Oxford two years ago I thought I might go and see (with no expectations at all) if it existed, or if I could find where it might have been.

So you can imagine my delight when I found the following:

She led him past a pool with a fountain under a wide-spreading tree, and then struck off to the left towards a huge many trunked pine.
There was a massive stone wall with a doorway in it, and in the further part of the garden the trees were younger and the planting less formal.
 Lyra led him almost to the end of the garden,
 over a little wooden bridge,
 to a wooden seat under a sprawling low-branched tree.

"Will, I used to come here in my Oxford and sit on this exact same bench whenever I wanted to be alone, just me and Pan. What I thought was if you - maybe just once a year - if we could come here at the same time, just for an hour or something, then we could pretend we were close again - because we would be close, if you sat here and I sat just here in my world -"
"Yes," he said, "as long as I live I'll come back. Wherever I am in the world I'll come back here -"
"On Midsummer's Day," she said, "At midday. As long as I live. As long as I live..."


Anonymous said...

Very cool! ! ! !

Jodie said...

Oh you're going to make me cry at work - sniff - so sad.

Nymeth said...

I am SO going there! Also, just thinking of that ending again makes me want to cry.

farmlanebooks said...

I never really thought about their bench existing. I know Oxford well so recognise those gardens - thanks for letting me know that is their bench - I will go and sit on it at some point!

Elise said...

I will admit that I shed a tear while writing it out. It has been too long since I've read this book.

Amused said...

Wow those photos are so beautiful! What a wonderful piece!

Jo said...

Oh, how beautiful...! This reminds me somehow of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.

You have a wonderful blog. The whole world should find you!

martine said...

Hi, thanks for your visit, and when I pop over to your blog what do I find, a kindred spirit. we did nt realise it was a real place either till we visited on midsummer day last year, it is on the botanical garden leaflet as 'Will and Lyra's bench'here is the story of our visit
much love

Anonymous said...

Thanks for visiting my blog! I have been to the Botanic Garden but I hadn't yet read Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. Still, even though I did not know the exact bench, I knew the place generally and it was cool that it had such an important place in the books.

- Christy

Elise said...

Christy, you should read these books, they're amazing!! And then go and visit the bench!!

Martine, loved reading about your adventure as well. What an exciting place to go!! I love it!!

Jo, thank you for always being so complimentary of my blog!! It makes me feel sunshiny :)

Amused, thank you! It is awesome!!

naida said...

fantastic post! I love the photos.

BridgeToTheStars said...

I just saw this linked on Twitter! The images are beautiful! Would you like to donate them to (With credit of course!) ;)

Anonymous said...

Heya :)
Such a gorgeous post...!
Will & Lyra's story has very special meaning in my own life's story...
I hope you don't mind but I've used one of your photos as the header of my blog - I'll add the photo credit :)
All the best!

Peter Freeman said...

The 2015 hardback editions each have an Appendix with new material. The Amber Spyglass appendix includes photographs of extracts from the papers of Dr. Mary Malone. One of those handwritten pages is a description of Will and Lyra, as Dr Malone saw them, which will make you cry. It's a beautiful and poignant little addition to the story, and no-one seems to be aware of it. Read it here -

(Also posted to Martine's blog)