A tiny, picturesque town set around a church and a stone bridge over the river. It’s a lovely spot to see the river move from the shallower upper Teesdale end into the deeper, Tees Valley section. But why stop here in particular?
Is it the car racing circuit just nearby?
Is it the MFC training ground just down the road?
Is it the amazing Rockcliffe Hall hotel just around the corner. Nope, it is historical. Croft was the childhood home of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. Although born in Cheshire, he spent most of his childhood here in Croft where his Father was a cleric in the Church. His mother and father are buried in the churchyard.
Although he was sent away to various schools, Richmond and then Rugby, he always came back to the family home. At school he was identified as a genius early in life, especially in Maths. He later gained at degree at Oxford University with the highest marks and ended up as a maths professor at Oxford for the rest of his life. However, that was just one side of his talent.
As a young man he had always enjoyed writing poems and short stories, even getting some of them published (in the Whitby Gazette no less!) but it was a story he told to his friend’s children that formed the basis of his most famous book. One of the children, Alice Liddell urged him to write it down and it was subsequently published as ‘Alice in Wonderland’. And Charles wrote under a pseudonym, a pen name, ‘Lewis Carroll’. Many people believe that scenes and characters in his books are based on places around Croft where he grew up. There is even a worn old stone face on the side of the church that, if you look at it from the right angle, looks just like a huge smile on the face of a cat…