A treat for Tennyson-lovers
An exhibition to mark the bicentenary of Poet Laureate Lord Alfred Tennyson’s birth has opened at his former home, Farringford House, on the Isle of Wight. Tennyson moved into the house in 1853, remained there for the rest of his life, and immortalised it in a poem to his friend Rev F. D. Maurice.
During Tennyson’s 39-year tenure, islanders were treated to regular visits from notables ranging from politicians, painters, and authors, to scientists, and even royalty. Benjamin Disraeli, Charles Darwin, Lewis Carroll, Giuseppe Garibaldi, and the Queen of Hawaii were Tennyson guests at one time or other.
The 1861 census provides an early glimpse at Tennyson’s idyllic Isle of Wight home, where he was living with his wife and two sons. The other occupants – a tutor, gardener, page, nurse, cook, housemaid, parlour maid, and a kitchen maid – give some idea of the opulent lifestyle the family enjoyed (click the image to enlarge).
On the 1891 census an 81-year-old Tennyson is described as a peer of the realm, and his one-year-old grandson, Lionel (a future England cricketer) is now part of the household.
Lord Tennyson would die just a year later. A search of the findmypast.com records reveals he was a shareholder in the Great Western Railway, and we discover that his wife, Emily, and eldest son, Hallam, acted as executors.
Our last glimpse at Farringford House is on the 1911 census. Lord Hallam Tennyson (who has inherited his father’s title) is the head of the household. The other residents are his wife Lady Audrey Tennyson, and seven servants. In the years that followed Farringford House became a hotel, and still serves that purpose today.
The ‘Tennyson at Farringford’ exhibition runs until 9 September at Farringford House.