On many visits to my son since he started working at Chewton Glen Hotel five years ago, we have driven through Lyndhurst, a town characterized by its Tudor style architecture and always busy High Street, dominated (modernly) by a Maserati dealership! I paid it a visit during my stay, on a lovely sunny 21C day. The town is associated with Alice Liddell, the person who inspired the main character with the same name in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll.
‘Alice in Wonderland’ was written in 1865, and tells the story of Alice tumbling down a rabbit hole, landing in a fantasy world, with well-known and loved characters: Alice of course, The White Rabbit, The Cheshire Cat, The March Hare, The Queen of Hearts, and many more. Carroll (a pseudonym for Charles Dodgson) is characterized in the story as Dodo. Many of the characters are modeled on locals who lived in the area, including Alice’s sisters Elsie and Tillie. The real Alice Liddell was buried at the Lyndhurst parish church St Michael and All Angels at the entrance to the High Street, having lived in the New Forest, an area with a woodland, heathland, wild horses, and forest trails, for almost fifty years.
My first stop was outside the church, and saw a sign to ‘Alice’s menorial’, but could not find her grave. Only when I researched her for this story, did I recall walking past her grave, the largest of all those outside the church. One can also visit Cuffnells outside Lyndhurst, where Alice Lidell grew up, but which she sold, to become a hotel, but then was demolished. Well-known American author Virginia Woolf visited close by, staying at Lane’s End.
On the High Street the Fox and Hounds is an old coaching inn, said to be haunted, after its owner John Ives fell into the fire one New Year! Opposite the church is the Crown Hotel, a coach inn which was rebuilt in 1896, still operating as a hotel, with a bar and restaurant. A very friendly receptionist provided me with the Lyndhurst brochure and the history of Alice and her resting place across the road. He was kind enough to call a taxi for me, to get me back to Walkford,
A Lyndhurst local Captain Arthur Phillip led the First Fleet to New South Wales in Australia, and became its first Governor.
I was delighted to get reacquainted with Alice in Wonderland through my visit to Lyndhurst.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein