Among the gothic splendor of Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral are eight stained glass window panes that contrast with the surrounding religious and medieval imagery. You will likely first notice the figures of anthropomorphic animals such as a rabbit playing a bugle and a wide-eyed hare carrying a teapot. This colorful window is, of course, a reference to Lewis Carroll and his famous book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Carroll was a math professor at Oxford University. A devout Anglican, he developed a lifelong relationship with Christchurch Cathedral, eventually becoming a deacon. But as the windows suggest, it was the story Carroll wrote for a little girl he had befriended that was to be his greatest legacy.
In one corner of the top window pane, you’ll see a portrait of Alice Liddell, the girl who inspired the story. In another corner, you’ll see Carroll’s portrait. Beneath these portraits are images that represent the literary Alice and the Dodo, which Carroll used as a caricature of himself,( so self-identified because of his stutter ).
You’ll also see other beloved characters from the book. Keep an eye out for the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, the Dormouse, the Mad Hatter, the Caterpillar, the Mad March Hare, the Mock Turtle, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, and of course, the Red Queen and her retinue.
The windows were first added in the 1920s to celebrate Carroll. The glasswork images on the panes were specifically designed to resemble John Tenniel’s illustrations from the first edition of the book.
Know Before You Go
The cathedral is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 4:15 pm. and on Sunday from 2 pm to 4:15 pm, and there is an entrance fee. You'll be given a headset, (in several languages) that will give you a history of the building, as well as provide commentary on various aspects of the architecture. Entrance to Christ Church is off St. Aldgate's, not far from the Alice Shop.
The Alice in Wonderland stained glass windows are located in the Student Dining Hall, the fifth window on the left from the hall's entrance. If you have any difficulty in finding the windows, it is best to ask one of the custodians wearing bowler hats that are posted throughout the complex.