Following Alice Through UK Wonderlands

23 June 2016

With Alice Through the Looking Glass – the much-vaunted follow-up to Tim Burton's 2010 Alice in Wonderland movie – hitting cinemas in July, it's the perfect time to rekindle your affection for Lewis Carroll's timeless tales.

The following places, from Christ Church College in Oxford to a tiny village in the north of England, revel in their Carroll connections.

The yellow exterior of Christ Church College Charles Church College was once Lewis Carroll's school (Image: Steve McKenna)

Oxford

Much of Oxford's 'Alice trail' is dotted in and around the leafy grounds of its prestigious university, where Carroll – the pseudonym of maths don Charles Lutwidge Dodgson – studied and taught.

The honey-toned Great Hall of Christ Church College is a must-see; its stained glass windows depict characters from Carroll's Wonderland. Across the road from the college, Alice's Shop is stocked with quirky souvenirs (think: clocks, cards, lockets, pendants and tea towels branded with Alice and the likes of Humpty Dumpty and Tweedledee and Tweedledum).

Alice Liddell – the real-life inspiration for Carroll's fictional heroine – is said to have regularly shopped for sweets in the store. She was the daughter of Carroll's boss, the dean of Christ Church, Henry Liddell, and Carroll would often take Alice and her siblings on rowing trips along Oxford's stretch of the River Thames.

The fantastical stories he would unfurl while on the water enchanted the children, providing the ingredients for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, a book first published in 1865.

Leisurely sightseeing boat tours – and Mad Hatter Tea Party-themed cruises – are offered from the Folly Bridge, next to the Head of the River pub.

The red door and sign to Alice's Shop in Oxford Step into Alice's Shop for sweets and more (Image: Steve McKenna)

The West Country

Several scenes, notably the extravagant garden party, in Burton's Alice in Wonderland were shot on the estate of Antony House, an 18th-century National Trust mansion by the River Lynher on the Cornwall-Devon border.

The beautiful gardens, with their elaborate topiary, are at their best between spring and autumn (April and October). About an hour's drive from here, you can pit stop in the historic Cornish harbourside village of Charlestown, where, in the first flick, Alice (played by Australian actress Mia Wasikowska) is seen sailing away in a vintage tall ship.

Charlestown has some enticing waterfront cafes and seafood restaurants. So, too, does Gloucester, whose well-preserved Victorian docks, 70 kilometres west of Oxford, stand in for London's bustling 19th-century port in Alice Through the Looking Glass.

A vintage tall ship in Charlestown See the tall ship from the film Alice in Wonderland (Image: Steve McKenna)

Wales

The real-life Alice (Liddell) spent summers in Llandudno, a seaside resort in northern Wales that boomed in popularity with the Victorian well-to-do.

Her family's lavish holiday home – Penmorfa – was demolished a few years ago to make way for luxury apartments, but Alice's legacy endures, and Llandudno's tourist information centre offers map-and-app-driven Alice-themed tours.

As well as a White Rabbit marble statue, which was unveiled in 1933 to commemorate Carroll's centenary, you'll come across myriad carved wooden sculptures of Wonderland characters, including the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter and Alice herself, plus the Cheshire Cat.

He graces the Happy Valley gardens, on the slopes of the Great Orme, Llandudno's prominent headland landmark, which you can scale by cable car.


More UK holiday inspiration

The UK's Royal Castle Hotspots

Britain's Great Outdoors


The North Of England

Though he spent much of his life in the South, Carroll was a 'northerner', born in the sleepy Cheshire village of Daresbury, 30 kilometres east of Liverpool.

Familiar figures from Wonderland, like the Dodo and the Mock Turtle, appear on a stained-glass memorial window in the village's All Saints Church – where Carroll's father was a vicar.

Take the M56 motorway to Manchester and enjoy the Alice-themed decor, dishes and afternoon teas of the eclectic Richmond Tea Rooms in the city's Gay Village.

Over in Yorkshire, Wonderland fans love delving into the quirky White Rabbit basement bar in Leeds. Expect a funky vibe, craft beers and creative cocktails (try the Queen of Hearts Sour).

 Enter the Rabbit Hole (Image: Steve McKenna)

From London ... To Tokyo

The North doesn't hold a monopoly on Alice-inspired watering holes. Shoreditch duo The Looking Glass and Callooh Callay are two of east London's most popular speakeasy-style cocktail joints.

Other big cities around the world have also embraced the Alice theme, not least Tokyo, where you'll find a string of whimsical Wonderland-tinged establishments.

At Alice in a Labyrinth restaurant in Ginza, there's a plethora of 'Eat Me' and 'Drink Me' references,  psychedelic murals and smiley waitresses kitted out like Alice, with blue-and-white-checkered pinafores and puffed-sleeved blouses.


Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to the United Kingdom.


Steve McKenna

A regular contributor to some of Australia's leading newspapers and travel magazines, Steve McKenna has visited, written about and photographed more than 80 countries on six different continents. He fears he has an incurable case of wanderlust and is particularly fond of Europe, Asia and South America.