Alfred, Lord Tennyson was one of the most renowned poets of the Victorian era. Born in Somersby, England in 1809, he began writing poetry at the age of 8 publishing his first poem in 1827, but it wasn’t until the 1840s that his work received regular public acclaim.
Alfred Tennyson was one of his family’s 11 surviving children and grew up with 2 elder brothers, 4 younger ones and 4 younger sisters. Tennyson’s father was a church rector who earned a decent income, but the size of the family meant expenses had to be closely watched. Therefore Tennyson attended only Louth Grammar School for a few years.
Alfred was a clever boy and mostly educated by his father, he and his siblings were raised with the love of books and writing, so this is how his poetic journey started. His first poetry was Poems by Two Brothers and then he never looked back. In 1829, he won the Chancellor’s Gold Medal for the poem Timbuctoo and in 1830 he published his solo collection Poems, Chiefly Lyrical. He wrote several poems such as Poems by Alfred Tennyson (1833), The Princess (1847), In Memoriam (1850) which contains the famous lines, “Tis better to have loved and lost/Than never to have loved at all”, this poem greatly impressed readers and won Tennyson many admirers.
Fame and Fortune
Tennyson’s became famous with his poetry which gave him an impressive income. Queen Victoria in 1850 selected him to succeed William Wordsworth as England’s new poet laureate. The poet supported a long beard and often dressed in a cloak and broad-brimmed hat, which made it easy for fans to spot him. He bought a house Farringford in Isle of Wight in 1853 which offered him an escape from his growing crowds of admirers.
Tennyson lived at Farringford house from 1853 until his death in 1892 and composed much of his famous poetry in the house and grounds. His son Lord Hallam Tennyson and his family continued to use the house until 1946 when it was sold to Thomas Cook and became a hotel.
Farringford Estate Limited bought Farringford Hotel and estate in 2007 and signed an agreement with the owner for transfer of ownership to the name of the estate in presence of property conveyancer and in 2012 began a 4-year restoration programme. The restoration project brought an interesting history of the house to life. Using old inventories and contemporary descriptions of the house the rooms have been decorated and furnished to look very much as it did when poet and his family lived there.
Alfred Tennyson built another home, Aldworth in 1869 in Blackdown that offered him more privacy. His Isle of Wight, Farringford home became a popular destination for summer trippers so he built this house. Designed by Sir James Knowles, Aldworth is a French-styled Gothic house built of local sandstone. It stands on a ridge overlooking the Weald, with magnificent views. Lord Alfred Tennyson used Aldworth as his summer residence, taking long walks over Blackdown. The house was passed onto his son when Alfred Tennyson died, who sold it later in 1921 to Indian Maharaja, His Highness Sir Sayaji Rao Gaekwar of Baroda. During the World War II, the house was taken over by Admiralty to be used as one point as a convalescent home.
The private ownership was bought by its current owners with help of business lawyers in 1993 who restored the property.