A Mad Tea Party
Golden Square, Warrington, Cheshire
‘It’s always tea time!’ says the Hatter in Chapter 7 of Alice in Wonderland. But by the time Alice is a guest at the Mad Tea Party, she has already gone down a rabbit hole, grown to a huge size and shrunk down again, heard a lecture on William the Conqueror and received advice from a hookah-smoking caterpillar. But at the party with the Hatter, the Dormouse and the March Hare, she has her strangest, and most frustrating, encounter of all. The Dormouse is constantly falling asleep, and the Hatter tells her he’s been doomed to having tea all day long because time for him has stopped. And rather inconveniently, it has stopped at 6pm, tea-time. He also bombards her with riddles, riddles for which there is no answer, but riddles that leave Alice increasingly exasperated all the same. The Mad Tea Party is one of the most famous chapters from one of the world’s most famous novels. Alice in Wonderland has been translated into 125 languages, including Hawaiian, Manx, Limburgish, even the constructed-language Lojban, and has been made into more than 40 films across the world. It was written, in 1865, by Lewis Carroll. Lewis had been born plain old Charles Dodgson 33 years before, in 1832, in Daresbury, a village not far from Warrington. As a child, Charles was a regular visitor to Warrington and enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells of its bustling market square. Just like Alice enjoys the sights, sounds and smells of Wonderland. A hundred and fifty years on, Alice is still celebrated and loved in Warrington. And so is her creator.