150 years ago Lewis Carroll and his friend Robinson Duckworth, together with Alice Liddell and her two sisters, walked down to the river at Folly Bridge and set off on the legendary boating picnic that gave life to the enduring story of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. This year on Alice's Day, Saturday 7 July, a colourful flotilla of boats traced the party's original journey up the River Thames towards Godstow in honour of that momentous river trip, when Christ Church Mathematics Tutor Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) first told the children the tale of a little girl, sitting bored by the riverbank, who finds herself tumbling down a rabbit hole into a topsy turvy world called Wonderland. The story so delighted the 10-year old Alice that she begged him to write it down - and the rest is history.
Carroll and Duckworth (acted by Christ Church rowers Matthias Beestermoeller & Nichols Silbersack), and the three Liddell sisters (acted by Lottie, Beth & Saskia) travelled in the lead boat 'Queenie', followed by two Thames skiffs, the ceremonial shallop 'Royal Thamesis' (last seen at the Jubilee pageant) and a selection of Venetian boats. They were crewed by Oxford based rowing club, City Barge. After a light lunch at 'No 1 Folly Bridge' the journey reenactment reached as far as Osney Lock (because of the dangerous river conditions), where the poem, 'Will you, wont you join the dance?" was sung. The flotilla was organised in association with the Lewis Carroll Society and was just one highlight of a pan-Oxford programme of events at more than 20 of the city's most popular historic venues and visitor attractions as part of Alice's Day, now in its fifth frabjous year.
Alice Liddell was the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church and lived in the Deanery on Tom Quad. A number of the Alice Day events took place at Christ Church in celebration of our connection to Alice, Dodgson and the Wonderland stories.
Photos: Ralph Williamson
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