Lewis Carroll and Croft Church
Carroll's famous Cheshire Cat was inspired by a carving in Croft Church
Croft on Tees is home to what might be the most famous smile in
literature. Historians state that Lewis Carroll's famous Cheshire
Cat was inspired by a carving in Croft Church.
Lewis Carroll, the famous author of such masterpeices such as,
Alice in Wonderland, Jaberwocky, Through the Looking Glass and many
more was very closley connected to Croft. His Father was Rector of
Croft church and Archdeacon of Richmond from 1843-1868. Carroll was
11 when he came to live on the Tees. He was one of 11 brothers and
sisters, and first started making up stories to entertain his
Much of "Alice in Wonderland" is said to have been set in and
around the rectory and church.The first verse of the famous
nonsense poem "Jabberwocky" was written at Croft. Local historian
David Simpson thinks it was based on the legend of the Sockburn
Worm. Sockburn lies to the east of Croft, further down the
It would be safe to say that one of Carroll's most famous
characters is the well known, 'Chershire Cat'. Croft Church has a
sedilia - a seat for the clergy built into the wall - at one end of
which is a carved stone face of a cat or lion. Could this have been
the original Cheshire Cat? Seen from a pew it has a smile as wide
as that famous feline's. But if you stand up, the grin seems to
disappear, just as it eventually does in "Alice in Wonderland".
Lewis Carroll, real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, created the
inscrutable evaporating creature for his "Alice in Wonderland".
' Well!, I've often seen a cat without a grin,' thought Alice;
'but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing i ever saw
in all my life!'
Alice in Wonderland, 1865
Throughout the passage of time many relics have been discovered
within The Croft Rectory. In 1950 the floorboards of Croft rectory
were taken up. They had lain undisturbed since Carroll's time.
Underneath were found various Victorian artefacts, which may have
belonged to Carroll's family.They are still kept at the church, and
include a child's shoe, and a white glove. The shoe is just the
type that Alice might have worn, and the glove is reminiscent of
the White Rabbit's gloves in "Alice in Wonderland".