Seventh-century princess and abbess, Saint Frideswide is now known as the patron saint of Oxford. Running from King Algar of Mercia who sought to marry her, she ended up in Oxford and left a few legendary marks across the city. One such place was Saint Margaret’s Well.
A church dedicated to her was constructed in the neighborhood of Osney Island during the late 19th-century, designed by Gothic Revival architect Samuel Sanders Teulon. Although the church itself is beautifully constructed, one of its most extraordinary features, although lesser-known, can be found inside.
In the nave of St Frideswide’s Church, there is a wooden door known as the “Alice Door.” The carving on the door does not depict Alice in Wonderland, although the story famously originated in Oxford. Instead, the legend of Saint Frideswide arriving in Oxford is depicted.
So why is it called the “Alice Door”? The door was carved by none other than Alice Liddell, after whom the fictional character Alice was based. Although it’s not as widely known as her legacy in literature, Liddell was tutored by contemporary art critic John Ruskin and this is one of the few surviving pieces of art she designed.
Know Before You Go
St Frideswide's Church is open for visitors during the week. During the winter season, it's open from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Monday, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, and 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.