THE grave of the real life Alice in Wonderland is being restored to mark the book's 150th anniversary after the stone began falling apart.

The last resting place of Alice Hargreaves, nee Liddell, is in poor condition and is in need of vital repairs and cleaning.

Lewis Carroll's famous book was inspired by Mrs Hargreaves, who died in 1934 aged 82, after he invented tales about a girl called Alice who fell down a rabbit hole to entertain her when she was a child.

Her father Henry Liddell was the dean of Christ Church College in Oxford and the author - whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson - was close to his children.

The book, which has since been published into more than 170 languages and adapted for the big screen, first came about on a rowing trip they all took together.

Alice asked Carroll to entertain her and her sisters with a story and he came up with the adventures of a girl called 'Alice'.

She asked him to write it down for her and he obliged, giving Alice her own book with illustrations as a Christmas gift called 'Alice's Adventures Under Ground' in 1864.

'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland', with illustrations by John Tenniel, was published a year later in 1865 under the name Lewis Carroll. In later editions it was abbreviated to 'Alice in Wonderland.'

Mrs Hargreaves is buried in the churchyard of St Michael and All Angels Church in Lyndhurst, Hants, pictured below, where her sons were christened.

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She lived in the New Forest village with her husband Reginald Hargreaves, a Hampshire cricketer, for almost 50 years.

A stone marks her grave with the writing: "The grave of Mrs Reginald Hargreaves, The "Alice" in Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland"."

The fundraising for its restoration is being organised by the church and Lyndhurst Parish Council and Ann Rogers, the church warden, said the 7ft square grave is currently a 'real mess'.

The 68-year-old, a warden of the church for five years, said: "We are trying to repair the grave and put fresh flowers in it so we have dug up the roses that are in there.

"It looks a real mess at the moment but the roses are due to arrive here and be planted in mid June. We wanted to do something and the stonemasons are coming in the next week.

"It's a square of stone with a bed of roses in the middle but part of the stone is breaking away. The whole thing could do with a clean up."

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The grave

Mrs Rogers, who has lived in Lyndhurst since 1980, told how hundreds of fans of the story still turn up at the churchyard to see the real Alice.

She added: "We get lots of visitors to see Alice's grave - every day there's a family struggling to find it in the church grounds.

"There are some Alice bits and pieces in the shops in the village so people buy something and then come here to look at the grave.

"When she died she was fed up of being 'Alice' so her family wouldn't put her name on it until it recently went on the grave.

"As time has gone by her family have given us permission to add her name.

"We want to do something for the anniversary but we don't know how much it may cost yet until we hear from the stonemasons."

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Young Alice Liddell

The 12-chapter story tells of a girl named Alice who enters a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures.

The first edition Carroll gave to ten-year-old Alice Liddell sold for £70,896 at an auction in the USA in 2009.

Events are being held all over the world to mark the 150th anniversary, with exhibitions planned in London, Manchester, America and Japan.

Royal Mail is also celebrating the anniversary by selling a set of ten commemorative stamps featuring characters from the book, including Alice, the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter.