HomeLifestyleTravelTravel Stories

Alice’s adventures in a Welsh wonderland

Alice’s adventures in a Welsh wonderland

How the real-life Alice who inspired Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland visited the Welsh town of Llandudno frequently 

Everyone knows the story of Alice in Wonderland and how she fell down the rabbit hole. But how much do you know of Lewis Carroll, the man who met the real-life Alice and was inspired to write the famous tale? What was its connection to the picturesque Welsh town of Llandudno? Curiouser and curiouser! 

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson wrote the book under his pen name of Lewis Carroll. He first met the Liddell family when he became a maths tutor at Christ Church College in Oxford, around March 1856. There he befriended Harry Liddell, the Dean of Christ Church, father to Alice and her two sisters, Lorina and Edith. He was also a keen photographer, and had a natural flair for storytelling, much to the children’s delight.  

Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast


Dodgson took many photos of Alice Liddell, the inspiration behind Alice in Wonderland

It was around April 25, 1856, that 24-year-old Charles Dodgson first met Alice and marked the date as one of particular significance. He had been photographing the cathedral at the time and the three sisters were curious as to what he was doing. He became the family photographer and would take many photographs of the children, in particular Alice. He had a box of dressing-up clothes, puzzles and toys to keep them entertained while he set up his studio.  

"They went to the newly opened University Museum of Natural History to look at stuffed animals, skeletons and the remains of the dodo"

The girls enjoyed the photography sessions very much and went on outings and boat trips with Charles, accompanied by their governess. Apparently, they went to the newly opened University Museum of Natural History to look at stuffed animals, skeletons and the remains of the dodo, a strange-looking, extinct bird. Because Dodgson had a stammer and would pronounce his name as ‘Do-Do-Dodgson’, it is thought that Alice linked him with the dodo bird. Thus, the dodo ended up in the book.  

Most everyone is mad here


Alice in Wonderland was originally a story told simply to entertain the Liddell sisters

Alice and her sisters were thoroughly regaled with stories and activities by Charles. During a boat trip along the Thames one day, in July 1862 he began telling a story of Alice and her adventures “underground”. As Alice was the central character, she was incredibly excited and cajoled Charles into writing it down. He did so and gave it to her as a Christmas present in 1864, having extended the story and illustrated the text with his own drawings.  

"During a boat trip along the Thames one day, in July 1862 he began telling a story of Alice and her adventures"

The following year, Alice in Wonderland was published, (the new title suggested by her father), with the illustrations by Sir John Tenniel. The book obviously went on to become the wonderful story we know and love today and has been made into films and televised.  

But what is the connection with Llandudno? Apparently, the Liddell family spent many summer holidays there, first staying in Tudno Villa in 1861, on the North Parade.  

It wasn’t very civil of you to sit down without being invited, said the March Hare 


The Liddells built a house on the beach at Llandudno, where they were rumoured to host Charles Dodgson himself

The town then was new, but already became known as the “queen of Welsh resorts.” As the Liddell family grew and had servants with them, they decided to build a summer home on the quiet West Beach, beneath the cliff of the Great Orme. This mansion became known as “Penmorfa”.  

Alice and her family spent many summers there, walking, drawing and admiring the beautiful scenery. Speculation was rife that Charles visited there, but this was never confirmed.  

Eat Me, Drink Me


Visiting Llandudno, you can still view the same beautiful scenery that Dodgson himself enjoyed

Tudno Villa became St. Tudno Hotel, which incorporated the Wildings Hotel in 2021. However, Penmorfa no longer remains.  

Visitors can still see the same striking scenery of the mountains and ocean today though.  

I can’t go back to yesterday, because I was a different person then


Llandudno is full of wonderful attractions paying homage to the fantastical characters of Alice in Wonderland

Today Llandudno retains a wealth of connection with the famous tale. Former Prime Minister, David Lloyd George unveiled the White Rabbit statue in 1933. There are also lots of fun attractions, including statues of the famous Wonderland characters scattered around the town. These include the cedarwood Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee sculptures in the area of pretty Haulfre Gardens, with its tea-rooms. There’s also the White Rabbit, Mad Hatter and Cheshire Cat, to name a few.  

You can also follow the White Rabbit Trail map of 55 bronze, cast footprints. This is available from the Visit Conwy website. 

Happy Valley has some wonderful carved chainsaw statues of the characters from the book and an amazing view overlooking Llandudno Pier.  

You are entirely bonkers. but I will tell you a secret, all the best people are 

On April 15 this year, the town will turn into a giant escape-room experience, with a virtual reality game by CluedUpp Games.  

"Follow the Mad Hatter challenges and solve clues from the Cheshire Cat."

You get into teams where you follow the Mad Hatter challenges and solve clues from the Cheshire Cat. Tickets can be purchased at cluedupp.com, but there’s not many left now.   

Thus, this brings the story up-to-date with the modern world. It is endearing to see that Llandudno has kept its links to the famous story and is now a wonderland of its own. 

Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter

*This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you.

This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...