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Atlas Obscura ‘Alice Door’

Seventh-century princess and abbess, Saint Frideswide is now known as the patron saint of Oxford. Running from King Algar of Mercia who sought to marry her, she ended up in Oxford and left a few legendary marks across the city, one such place being Saint Margaret’s Well.

A church dedicated to her was constructed in the neighborhood of Osney Island in the late Victorian era, designed by Gothic Revival architect Samuel Sanders Teulon. Although the church itself is beautifully constructed, its most extraordinary feature can be found inside: in its nave is a wooden door known as the “Alice Door.” The carving on does not show anything in relation to Alice in Wonderland, even though the story famously originated in Oxford. Instead, the legend of Saint Frideswide arriving in Oxford is depicted.

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Audio Guide 2013
Audio Guide
Oxford – a tour of history, architecture and great characters
Atlas Obscura 2019
‘Alice in Wonderland’ Windows

Discover 'Alice in Wonderland' Windows in Oxford, England: The stoic structure boasts a whimsical set of stained glass art commemorating Lewis Carroll.

Brutalism 1960
Hilda Besse Building, St. Antony’s College
Atlas Obscura 2020
Bate Collection of Musical Instruments

Discover Bate Collection of Musical Instruments in Oxford, England: Over a thousand musical instruments are on display, from bagpipes and harpsichords to drums and the sinuous serpent.

Atlas Obscura 2019
James Sadler Plaque

Discover James Sadler Plaque in Oxford, England: Site of the first hot air balloon flight conducted by the first English balloonist.

Atlas Obscura 2017
The Story Museum

Discover The Story Museum in Oxford, England: An Oxford museum where visitors can have tea with the Mad Hatter and climb through the wardrobe to a fantasy land.

Atlas Obscura 2019
Godstow Abbey Ruins

Discover Godstow Abbey Ruins in Oxfordshire, England: These ancient ruins were the final resting place of King Henry II's mistress.

Atlas Obscura 2018
J.R.R. Tolkien’s Grave

Discover J.R.R. Tolkien's Grave in Oxford, England: The names Lúthien and Beren can be found inscribed on the shared grave of the famous writer and his beloved wife and muse.

Atlas Obscura 2019
Site of the Rewley Road Rail Station

Discover Site of the Rewley Road Rail Station in Oxford, England: A plaque is all that remains of a lost Oxford transport hub.

Atlas Obscura 2020
Port Meadow

Discover Port Meadow in Oxford, England: Legend says this public grazing area hasn't been plowed for thousands of years.

Castle Car Park, Templar Square
Atlas Obscura 2020
The Perch Inn

Discover The Perch Inn in Binsey, England: This historic pub is a hidden gem for fans of Lewis Carroll.

Atlas Obscura 2021
The lantern of Guy Fawkes

Discover The

Brutalism 1967
Templeton College (today: Oxford Saïd Business School)
Atlas Obscura 2017
J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S Lewis’s Little-Known Oxford Lit Club

The "Inklings" frequently met at this Oxford pub to discuss the now legendary fantasy stories they were writing.

Brutalism 1967
Denys Wilkinson Building
Atlas Obscura 2020
Saint Margaret’s Well

Discover Saint Margaret's Well in Oxford, England: The medieval legend behind this holy well was one of the inspirations behind "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.".

Atlas Obscura 2019
Penrose Paving at the Mathematical Institute

Discover Penrose Paving at the Mathematical Institute in Oxford, England: The beautiful non-repeating pattern honors the Oxford professor who discovered it.

Atlas Obscura 2019
Morris Garage

Discover Morris Garage in Oxford, England: This nondescript building was the birthplace of Morris cars.

Atlas Obscura 2019
St Catherine’s College

Discover St Catherine's College in Oxford, England: This slice of 1960s Danish modernism does not conform to the Oxford college stereotypes.

Atlas Obscura 2019
The Bear Inn

Discover The Bear Inn in Oxford, England: This centuries-old pub boasts a collection of more than 4,500 snippets of neckties from around the world.

Atlas Obscura 2019
Eagle Ironworks

Discover Eagle Ironworks in Oxford, England: A little piece of Oxford's overlooked industrial heritage.

Atlas Obscura 2019
Alice’s Shop

Discover Alice's Shop in Oxford, England: The shop where the girl who inspired the beloved character once bought sweets is now a book-themed commercial curiosity.

Atlas Obscura 2020
Oxford Castle & Prison

Discover Oxford Castle & Prison in Oxford, England: This Norman castle was once the site of a Victorian-era prison, and now exists as a luxury hotel.

Atlas Obscura 2020
Folly Bridge

Discover Folly Bridge in Oxford, England: The spot where Oxford garnered its name was also home to a medieval philosopher and includes a house covered in statues.

Atlas Obscura 2019
The Alfred Jewel

Discover The Alfred Jewel in Oxford, England: One of Oxford's greatest treasures likely belonged to the legendary King Alfred the Great.

Bodleian Law Library, St. Cross Building, University of Oxford
Brutalism 1965
Tinbergen Building, Departement of Zoology and Psychology
Atlas Obscura 2019
Martyr’s Mark

Discover Martyr's Mark in Oxford, England: The spot where three Protestant clergymen were burned at the stake during the reign of "Bloody Mary.".

Atlas Obscura 2018
Annora’s Tomb

Discover Annora's Tomb in Oxford, England: The weathered grave of a medieval anchoress who walled herself up in a cell attached to a church.

Atlas Obscura 2022
Sir James Murray’s Post Box

Discover Sir James Murray's Post Box in Oxford, England: A letterbox installed specifically for the first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Atlas Obscura 2019
The Norrington Room

Discover The Norrington Room in Oxford, England: Once one of the largest rooms full of books in the world, this bookstore basement is still a treat for bibliophiles.

Atlas Obscura 2018
Oxford Botanic Garden

Discover Oxford Botanic Garden in Oxford, England: The fantastic charm of England's oldest botanical garden has made it a place of writerly inspiration for centuries.

Atlas Obscura 2019
Jane Burden’s Birthplace

Discover Jane Burden's Birthplace in Oxford, England: A plaque marks the humble origins of an artistic muse who embodied the ideals of Pre-Raphaelite beauty.

Atlas Obscura 2018
C.S. Lewis’s Grave

Discover C.S. Lewis's Grave in Oxford, England: The beloved fantasy novelist is buried near a church containing a whimsical etched glass window full of Narnia favorites.

Atlas Obscura 2019
Beaumont Palace Marker

Discover Beaumont Palace Marker in Oxford, England: A hidden plaque is the only reminder of the lost palace where two storied English kings were born.

Atlas Obscura 2020
The Painted Room Oxford

Discover The Painted Room Oxford in Oxford, England: This hidden 13th-century tavern room has a few Shakespearean connections.

Keble College
Atlas Obscura 2019
Rewley Road Swing Bridge

Discover Rewley Road Swing Bridge in Oxford, England: The remnants of this unusual bridge await an uncertain fate.