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Alice in... Cornwall?

Posted by Luci Ackers on 23 February 2016
Related property: Duloe Manor
Cottage in Cornwall Duloe Manor Charlestown Harbour Duloe grounds

From humble beginnings to movie blockbuster: The story behind one of Britain's best-loved children's stories

This year marks the release of the second instalment of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland series. The films are a re-imagined take on Lewis Carroll's original novels, and are slightly darker than the classics. Lewis Carroll was thought to be one of the best writers of literary nonsense and the films don't disappoint in bringing his imaginative streak to light. The tales are full of invented creatures, bizarre characters and witty word play.

But where did it all start?

Well, perhaps a little closer to home than you might think!

Here at Duloe Manor, manager Michelle is adamant that the inspiration for Alice was sparked in the property's very own garden!

Duloe Manor is a beautiful Queen Anne manor house in Cornwall that was built during the 1690s. It began life as a rectory and one of its past rectors was a certain Robert Scott, who is famous for having gone on to co-edit A Greek-English Lexicon.

Michelle admits that, though the story hasn't been totally proven, rumour has it that Charles Dodgson (Carroll) went to stay with his friend Reverend Scott at the Duloe Rectory back in the 1840s; it was here that he saw the man's young daughter playing out on the croquet lawn. Perhaps Lewis Carroll could already picture the scene of Alice's game in Wonderland with the Queen of Hearts. The manor is set within a beautiful stretch of Cornish countryside - could the lovely, tree-filled grounds of Duloe Manor have helped to inspire Carroll's intricate Wonderland?

Are there other theories?

In the past, many have speculated that the eponymous Alice was based on an acquaintance of Dodgson's, the daughter of Henry Liddell, who was Dodgson's friend and Dean of his former Oxford college. In fact, one poem at the end of Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There actually spells out Alice Liddell's name in full. Carroll has often denied that his protagonist was based on a real person, but Alice Liddell was the right age (seven years old) and is thought to have been told an early version of the famous story by Dodgson during a family outing.

Coincidentally, this friend is the same Henry Liddell that went on to co-edit A Greek-English Lexicon with Robert Scott! Perhaps it was elements from both acquaintances that helped to inspire the imagination of Lewis Carroll...

Cornwall is key

Either way, Cornwall has obviously been considered an excellent setting for the Wonderland adventures: director Tim Burton has used a number of locations for certain scenes in his surreal film.

Charlestown Harbour is situated in a picturesque little inlet near St Austell on the south coast of Cornwall and was used for the film's dock scene. The town remains relatively unchanged since the Georgian period and is under an hour from Duloe.

But Antony House, near Torpoint was perhaps a more recognisable Cornish location. This National Trust-owned 18th century country house is set in wonderful gardens that had the perfect touch of 'other worldliness' about them. At the start of the film actress Mia Wasikowska can be seen in the gardens of Antony where the grounds provided great little hidden nooks and picturesque vistas. Later in the film, as the storyline darkens, the Mad Hatter's tea party takes place in the same grounds, though they appear much murkier here than they do at the beginning. Antony is just half an hour away from Duloe Manor and makes for a great day out.

Image: © Copyright Derek Harper and licensed for reuse

Discover this Cornish Wonderland for yourself. Come to stay at Duloe Manor and wander the grounds. Explore the exquisite countryside of Cornwall and see for yourself how easily it lends itself to both book and film. Just pop your details in below to find out how.

Luci Ackers

Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.

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