Alice’s adventures started here…

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

White Rabbit, originally uploaded by haadams_rpi.

Ripon, where I lived for ten years, has a few claims to fame (not including the fact I lived there for ten years, of course!)
One of them is the residence of Charles Dodgson, who as Lewis Carroll wrote” Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. His links with the cathedral (his father was a canon there) are thought to have led to some direct inspirations.

This seat (or misericord), made for the clergy to rest on during services, includes a carving of a griffin and a rabbit who is trying to escape down a hole. You can see the bottom of a more successful rabbit already disappearing down the hole on the right.
The architect Sir George Gilbert Scott included figures of the Queen of Hearts and the Cheshire Cat during building works on the cathedral in celebration of the cathedral’s links with Carroll

When Tenniel was doing the drawings for Alice, he modelled the heroine on the daughter of Canon Badcock, Mary, after being given a photograph of her by Carroll. Here the links between Ripon and Alice get even stronger: Mary lived near Ripon’s notorious gypsum faults, which periodically cause huge holes to appear in the ground – leading in turn to quite a few arguments between houseowners and insurers. In 1834 one of these holes appeared a short distance from the Badcock’s house, 60 feet deep and 35 feet wide, and it’s thought that Carroll visited it and later included it in the tale of Alice’s adventures.


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