The Lewis Carroll Centre at All Saints Church, Daresbury
It is now 6 months since we opened the doors of our new Visitor Centre and it has been a busy six months but things have gone well. The Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire, Mr. Briggs, officially opened. the building and the Bishop of Chester led the service and preached a very appropriate Carrollian sermon before-hand.
We were blessed with a wonderful sunny day with temperatures in the 20's, the daffodils, planted around the building in freezing weather in November were greeting visitors in their full glory and everyone had a wonderful afternoon. After all the work of raising money, planning applications, building problems and thefts, we relished the thoughts of a summer enjoying the fruits of our labours and we have not been disappointed but if we thought we were going to have a peaceful time , we were sadly mistaken.
The building is proving to be a great asset in so many respects. Our visitor numbers have obviously increased and coach-party numbers are up and we have not even advertised ourselves yet as we wanted to get everything up and running smoothly and all our helpers trained to use the cash register and show people around before we did that. The shop is proving a great asset and is well used by our visitors. We are providing tea, coffee and biscuits and afternoon teas for coach parties and this proving popular.
The Centre itself is also used for meetings,Sunday School and for coffee on a Sunday after our morning service, in fact it has fast become the 'centre' for our parish socialising life. A few weeks ago we had a visitor come in on a Sunday afternoon who asked to be shown around and then requested to buy some items from the shop. After paying, giving a donation and then saying that he would gift-aid it - all new territory for our volunteer visitors guides, he then told them that he was a ‘Secret Shopper' for Visit England and that we had passed with flying colours. We were so pleased.
Walking into the Centre, through the magnificent glass doors and seeing the Cheshire countryside through the five beautiful windows, you are immediately transported into a wonderland. Many visitors have commented on the quality of the workmanship of the new building and, how it blends in so well with the old church. We went to great lengths to find a sandstone to match the original in colour and found some in Staffordshire. Being a semi-circular building, each piece of sandstone was hand-crafted to fit in its appropriate place by a wonderful stonemason and the windowsills of the beautiful windows, each weigh 2 ton and had to be carved in situ which took a day and a half for each one. Who said that the art of craftsmanship is dead? Lambert Walker, the builders of our project did a wonderful job. The quality and information of the graphic displays in the centre, which tell the history of Lewis Carroll and the Dodgson family from their time in Daresbury to his death in Guildford, is commented on daily.