A trip to Wonderland
Most people may associate Lewis Carroll with the city of Oxford, where he studied and lived for many years. After all, it was there that he conceived and wrote his most famous work, the classic Alice in Wonderland.
But we tend to forget that it all really started in Cheshire, where he was born and spent the first few of his childhood years.
As I was surprised to discover on a random weekend visit to the town of Warrington, the area is proud of this legacy and if one pays attention will find the writer’s presence in many a corner. In the town centre it’s easy to spot the sculpture of the Madhatter Tea Party at the town’s market square, or their local Wetherspoons pub named “The Looking Glass” with an illustration of the author’s portrait in their hanging signboard.
But the best finds are really south from town and into the Cheshire countryside.
Lewis Carroll’s father was the resident parish priest at Daresbury’s All Saints Church in 1832 when the young of the Dodgsons (Lewis Carroll was only a made-up pen name after transforming and reversing his real first and middle names: Charles Lutwidge) was born. The tiny village may well hold the record for highest Alice in Wonderland themed public displays per square mile. From road signs to public notice posters, house signs, garden decorations, etc. The original church is still active today and it’s now a Grade II listed building, part of England’s National Heritage. In 2012 and marking 180 years of the author’s birth, the local council opened a comprehensive small visitor centre adjacent to the church. The centre explains the history of the Dodgson family and the importance that religion and his early years in the Cheshire countryside had on the development of the writer’s imagination. The church added a very special homage inside a small side chapel, incorporating 5 lower panels of stained-glass that depict characters of Alice in Wonderland. The vignettes celebrate his birth and include John Tenniel’s illustrations from the original books.
From the church grounds, there is a 45 min signposted walk to the precise site of Lewis Carrol’s birth, much closer to what is today the settlement of Lower Whitley than to Daresbury, after meandering through farmland, orchards and country roads. When following the walk, one can possibly be stepping on the Dodgson’s footprints, as the family walked back and forth every day from their home to the church and back. This distance and access difficulties would become eventually one of the reasons why they decided to move away north to Yorkshire.
From the Dodgson’s parsonage there isn’t much left. The building doesn’t stand anymore, but one can still see the stone foundations on the ground and an old well. The location is next to a centenary wood which was named after Lewis Carroll and has been preserved by National Trust, beautifully landscaped with Alice in Wonderland details.
A truly hidden treasure that any Alice in Wonderland lover would be glad to discover if they find themselves around the minor roads of Cheshire.
A tea party at home
I hadn’t been to my hometown and hadn’t seen my grandma and some other family members for 8 years, it was also my grandma’s 82 birthday at the beginning of August, so I took this opportunity and went there for a weekend to surprise and celebrate her. TT tea party products only made it more special and emotional, everyone was really impressed and had a good time.
Last Thursday night Theatre Club was finally back after a long wait! There was certainly a buzz in the office all day and it was great to have so many of the TT team come along. I have wanted to see Pretty Woman the Musical for a while now and it did not disappoint. It really was a feel good evening with singing, dancing and Danny Mac cast as Edward Lewis was a bonus for all the women! I can’t wait for our next theatre trip. For those who didn’t come along this time “Big mistake. Big. Huge!”