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As I mentioned in my last post, I just spent two weeks in England, and of course on the top of my list of places to see was Oxford, birthplace of Alice in Wonderland. Right off the bat when we arrived in the city, we started seeing Alice references:

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Then we began our Alice tour in earnest. We visited Folly Bridge, where Lewis Carroll and the Liddell girls set off on their boat ride down the Isis that fateful day, and Carroll began spinning the tale of Wonderland.

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We stopped at Alice’s Shop, a wonderland of souvenirs set in the very same shop that Alice used to visit when she lived there, the inspiration for the Sheep Shop in Through the Looking Glass.

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And then we went across the street to Christchurch College, where Lewis Carroll (under his real name, Charles Dodgson) studied and taught, and where he first met Alice, the daughter of the dean, Henry Liddell. Guided by a booklet we picked up at Alice’s Shop, we toured the campus and found many Alice-related things.

a very Alice-looking door in the garden wall

a very Alice-looking door in the garden wall

Tom Quad - Alice walked through this frequently

Tom Quad – Alice walked through this frequently

Door to the Deanery

door to the Deanery

statue of Henry Liddell

statue of Henry Liddell

Christchurch Cathedral, stained glass designed by Edward Burne-Jones, the Binsey Treacle Well (a place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages)

Christchurch Cathedral, stained glass designed by Edward Burne-Jones, the Binsey Treacle Well (a place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages, inspiration for the treacle well in the book)

Christchurch Cathedral, stained glass designed by Burne-Jones and made by William Morris, memorial for Alice's sister Edith who died tragically on the day of her engagement announcement - the central figure is St. Catherine, but is said to resemble Edith

Christchurch Cathedral, stained glass designed by Burne-Jones and made by William Morris, memorial for Alice’s sister Edith who died tragically on the day of her engagement announcement – the central figure is St. Catherine, but is said to resemble Edith

The dining hall at Christchurch College (also the inspiration for the dining hall in the Harry Potter movies) - setting for the rest of the following photos

The dining hall at Christchurch College (also the inspiration for the dining hall in the Harry Potter movies) – setting for the rest of the following photos

portrait of Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll

portrait of Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll

these strange figures in the fireplace are said to be the inspiration for the scene in the book when Alice's neck grows very long (and the bird cries "Serpent!")

these strange figures in the fireplace are said to be the inspiration for the scene in the book when Alice’s neck grows very long (and the bird cries “Serpent!”)

stained glass in the dining hall featuring Wonderland characters

stained glass in the dining hall featuring Wonderland characters

stained glass with portraits of Carroll and Alice

stained glass with portraits of Carroll and Alice

The next day, I got my long-awaited Alice-themed tattoo. After mulling over many possibilities in the months beforehand – including some of the Tenniel illustrations of my favorite scenes, and even some of Carroll’s own illustrations of the characters – I finally decided on just a simple bit of text (as I’ve got text tattoos for my other favorite stories). To encapsulate the Girls Underground theme, I chose “Down, down, down” – obviously from Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole – written in Lewis Carroll’s own handwriting from the original Alice’s Adventures Under Ground manuscript, along the curve of my ankle.

The tattoo shop I chose just happened to be across the street from Christchurch College, and the studio was on the second floor, so as I had his words tattooed on me forever, I got to look out over the buildings Lewis Carroll himself lived and worked in. It was pretty amazing. Here it is:

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And a scan of the original text:

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And thus completes my Alice adventure in Oxford.

I recently returned from a two-week trip to England with my mom. One of the highlights for me was getting to visit the park where they filmed the opening scene of my favorite movie ever (and inspiration for the entire Girls Underground idea), Labyrinth. This was not even my first attempt to find shooting locations for the film – I once dragged my father around Nyack, New York in search of the places in Sarah’s home town, but while the town itself seemed familiar (and indeed, was used in part for the scene where she’s running through the rain), the park I found was not right.

Then, a miracle occurred – while I was planning my trip to England, I stumbled upon this webpage, in which someone actually found the right location, as evidenced by their photo. It was in England, where the bulk of the movie was filmed on sets. Moreover, it was on an estate in a small town about an hour away from London called West Wycombe. A town which, despite its obscurity, I was already planning to visit, because the very same estate (belonging to an eccentric 18th century baron) was home to the Hellfire Caves, where notorious orgies were said to be celebrated in honor of Bacchus and Venus, and the entire property is covered in those pseudo-Greek temples to pagan gods so popular at that time amongst the nobles. (I’ve covered that aspect of my visit on my spiritual blog, here.) I just about fell out of my chair.

After a fascinating walk through the caves, my mother and I began to explore the Dashwood estate. It is quite beautiful – the lake, the buildings, the swans (just like you can see in the movie behind Sarah). Eventually we circled the lake and were just downhill from the grand house itself when I found the distinctive set of bridges I was looking for – I was in the right place. Here it is in the movie:

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And here I am, running across the same bridge (but obviously shot from a lower angle):

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In this one you can see the same tree as in the movie shot (though there’s no bench, just like of course there are no obelisks actually there):

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And here is a wide shot from up the hill, so you can see the surrounding landscape with the same two bridges:

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In fact, for those obsessive fans like myself, I’ve uploaded a very brief panoramic video I took so you can see just what you would see if you stood where the cameras were and rotated around.

Thank you to the person who first found this! You made this possible. Glad to know there are other people just as obsessed with Labyrinth.

An exploration of story…

In which I describe examples of the Girls Underground archetype that I have discovered in literature and film. For more information regarding the concept, including its earlier incarnations in fairytales and mythology, visit the pages linked above. Here is a list of all the examples I have covered thus far.

The Oracle


THE GIRLS UNDERGROUND STORY ORACLE - tapping into the Power of Story for guidance and insight. Learn more here.

Alice Days

Celebrate one of the primary inspirations for Girls Underground - Alice in Wonderland - with a holiday down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass! Check out the Alice Days page for party ideas, movie recommendations, and more.

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