Lewis Carroll’s links to Sunderland are well documented. The city and the surrounding area helped inspire some of his works, such as the Alice in Wonderland series, the Walrus and the Carpenter poem, and the Jabberwocky poem.
A small park within Sunderland holds a delightful tribute to this connection. In 2000, Mowbray Park received a revamp, and a bronze statue of a walrus was unveiled as a way to immortalize the stuffed walrus head in the nearby Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens that’s believed to have inspired part of Carroll’s 1871 poem.
Carrol supposedly found inspiration from more than just the stuffed walrus while working on Through the Looking-Glass. Local legend tells of how Carroll met a carpenter who worked on one of the many shipyards in Sunderland at the time, who then served as the inspiration for the carpenter in the Walrus and the Carpenter poem.
Though a statue of a carpenter was originally planned to accompany the walrus, the revamp ran out of funds before the second piece of art was commissioned, so the walrus currently stands alone. That said, the Friends of Mowbray Park and Winter Gardens organization is currently trying to raise enough funds to commission a carpenter statue to next to the walrus.
Know Before You Go
The park is typically open from dawn until dusk. While in the park, keep an eye out for other Alice in Wonderland-inspired features.
Parking is available in the Burden Road multi-storey, signposted as museum parking on a brown sign. Cross the road and turn left. Both the museum and walrus sculpture are adjacent to the small lake.