Charles Dodgson - whose pen name was Lewis Carroll - and who has achieved world-wide fame lasting 150 years as the author of Alice’s Adventures in
Wonderland, not only visited Winteringham in September 1863, but also took at least 6 photographs in the village. His visit to Winteringham occurred close to the time that Alice’s Adventures was
written and published.
He had been born at Daresbury, Cheshire, and raised from the age of 11 close to Ripon where his father was connected with the Cathedral. At this time he would
have known of Miss Louisa Erskine, the daughter of the Dean of Ripon.
After going to College in Oxford, and gaining a lectureship in mathematics there, he learned all about photography and photographic development from his friend
Reginald Southey ... the nephew of Robert Southey - the biographer of Henry Kirke White - who had himself been a pupil at Winteringham 60 years earlier!
On 4th July 1862, Dodgson and his friend Robinson Duckworth took the three daughters of the
Dean of Christ Church on a trip on the River Isis. The girls were Lorina, Alice and Edith Liddell. During this trip he told the tale which later became Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
In the week 4th - 11th September 1863 he visited Winteringham.
The daughter of the Dean of Ripon, whom he knew as Miss Erskine, had married the Reverend TFR Read in 1845, and was now Mrs Louisa Read. Dodgson travelled from Whitby to Hull with
his sister Fanny, crossed the Humber with Mrs Read who had met him, and then to Brigg and finally Winteringham, arriving at the village at 4:30pm on Friday 4th September 1863.
He preached on the Sunday morning, in aid of the Curates Aid Society, and in the afternoon, Mr Mitchell - the curate at Winteringham, preached a farewell sermon ... presumably as he was
leaving the Parish.
On the Monday, Charles set up his camera and took a photograph of Rev TFR Read, and one of Mr Mitchell. On the same day, he records that Mrs Read had spoken of getting permission
for Charles to photograph the children of her cousin Lord Darnley, and those of Mrs Parnell who had been one of the ladies in waiting to Queen Victoria. Mrs Read was evidently well
-connected, and it would appear true to her word, for on July 7th 1864, Charles photographed the children of Lord Darnley (Ivo, 5, and Alice, 3), AND Mr Parnell’s Victor, Madeline, Loui, Leila,
and Mabel, all at Lambeth Palace, London.
During the remainder of the week, Dodgson took photographs of Mrs Read, of a child of Reverend Wood’s (who was at Whitton and Alkborough at the time), and of several children
from Winteringham National School. He also photographed the Church and the Rectory. Sadly only the photographs of the Church, Mrs Read and the Rectory are known to have survived.
Detail from the rectory photo, showing Rev Read and his wife, Louisa
[from the Erskine Album, Bodleian Library, Oxford]
Whilst at Winteringham, he met the vicar of Frodingham at dinner, the Rev Weigall.
He left Winteringham at 8:30am on the Friday morning, heading back to Whitby, but visiting Beverley Minster on the way ... and he was still at Whitby by 5:30pm!
After the publication of the book, and its sequel “Through the Looking Glass” Charles Dodgson became world famous,
receiving fan mail, as well as considerable sums of money. He left behind about 3,000 photographs, of which approximately 1,000 remain today - including those two taken in Winteringham.
Rev Read not only opened the National School in the year that he married Louisa, but also had major renovations carried out on the Church in 1851, and had the new Rectory built to
replace the one known as the “Tudor” Rectory (but which in fact was built in 1649) - making him the last Rector to live in the Tudor Rectory and the first to live in the Victorian Rectory.
Shortly after the visit of Charles Dodgson, the Reads moved to the picturesque Sussex village of
Withyham, where Louisa died on 12th April 1865 - just 19 months after Charles Dodgson had taken her photograph. She is commemorated in Winteringham Church by the lectern in the
shape of an eagle which is still in use today.
This account has been written with considerable help from Edward Wakeling, one of the foremost authorities on Charles Dodgson. He has edited and published many books on
Charles Dodgson, including his diaries, and all his known photographs.
My thanks also to Tom Smith, who researched Reverend Woods, and other details.
Do you know of any very old photographs of Winteringham National Schoolchildren which MAY have been the missing photographs taken by Charles
Dodgson? They could have been in the family for generations, but would be of enormous interest to Edward Wakeling, who has contributed enormously to our knowledge of Charles
Dodgson at Winteringham.