One of Britain’s most popular novels, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, may have been inspired by the city of Ripon.
Lewis Carroll, whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, lived in Ripon as a young man. His father was canon of Ripon Cathedral from 1852 until 1858 and Carroll spent a lot of his time in the cathedral. Here, he would have seen the misericords, which are carved with images that are particularly reminiscent of Wonderland. A carved griffin chasing a rabbit down a hole on one misericord may have inspired Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole. A small misshapen character on another misericord looks rather like Alice after she followed the ‘drink me’ instruction and shrank. It has also been suggested that the rabbit hole may have been inspired by the cathedral’s crypt tunnel.
In 2018, Ripon Museum Trust is celebrated the link between Ripon and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with an outdoor performance on 14 August.