As the myth goes, she had fled to Binsey in her endeavour to escape marrying the king of Mercia who pursued her to the gates of the church only to be struck blind by lightning. But on her plea to God, a spring appeared, the waters of which healed the blind king. To our astonishment, it was this well which had inspired Lewis Carroll to imagine the ‘Treacle Well’ in Alice in Wonderland, “treacle” apparently meaning “healing unguent”.
On our way back, I mused over my childhood reading of Alice in Wonderland and imagined Carroll almost a century ago standing at the same place conjuring up one of the most enthralling stories of the century. By now we had become quite thirsty. We decided to have a beer at the Perch, a pub dating back to the 16th century when it was an inn for the pilgrims visiting the church. And to our astonishment, there were not less than 200 visitors swarming over the lawns of the pub, a joyous gathering which I am sure included the villagers too, frolicking on that Sunday morning under Binsey poplars that Gerald Manley Hopkins wrote so delightfully about. No wonder the village had looked deserted.
Shelly Walia accidentally traverses Alice’s wonderland: