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Tennyson's Isle of Wight Home

Updated on September 15, 2014

Alfred Lord Tennyson, Poet Laureate

In 1853, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and his wife Emily, went house-hunting on the Isle of Wight. The poet's friend, Richard Monckton Milnes, had published a biography of John Keats in 1848 and it's possible that Tennyson's enthusiasm for Keats' poetry led him to the Island. They eventually settled at Farringford House near Freshwater Bay at the western end of the Island. This is where the Poet Laureate lived and wrote some of his greatest poems.

Tennyson Down on the Isle of Wight
Tennyson Down on the Isle of Wight

Tennyson Down

Being a poet of landscape, views and settings were of great importance to Tennyson.

He was born and brought up in Lincolnshire but found little inspiration there, (it is a bit flat!) unlike the Isle of Wight where, as a compulsive walker, he could climb onto High Down (now known as Tennyson Down), and find inspiration in the wonderful landscape.

Farringford House came with a sizeable estate, which reached right down to the sea. Behind the house was a patch of tangled woodland known as The Wilderness which Tennyson opened up, rediscovering the old paths up onto Tennyson Down. He chose the spot to build himself a summerhouse, where he did much of his writing.

Garibaldi visits Tennyson in 1864 (Illustrated London News 23 April 1864)
Garibaldi visits Tennyson in 1864 (Illustrated London News 23 April 1864)

Famous Visitors to Farringford

During Tennyson's time many famous visitors were drawn to the Isle of Wight.

'Everybody is either a genius, or a poet, or a painter or peculiar in some way''

So wrote Anny Thackeray on a visit to Freshwater in 1865. As the residence of the poet laureate, Freshwater was a Mecca for intellectuals, keen to talk to him. At the time it was compared to a French salon or Athens in the age of Pericles. Leaders of Victorian society, poets, painters and philosophers crossed the Solent and headed for Farringford to meet Tennyson . . . but they weren't always welcome..

Farringford in 1970
Farringford in 1970

Farringford House

Farringford House was Tennyson's home from 1856 until his death in 1892. It continued in the possession of the Tennyson family until 1945, when it was sold and converted into a hotel. It continued as a hotel until 2010. It is now a Grade 1 Listed Building which is being carefully restored to it's former glory by the new owners.

"Alfred" two bedroom Self Catering Cottages
"Alfred" two bedroom Self Catering Cottages

Self Catering Holiday Cottages

The Farringford estate has also been restored and as well as the gardens has self catering holiday cottages a swimming pool and golf course.

The cottages have been modernised and are comfortable for a family or group of friends, a couple, writer, walker or dog lover!

Self catering cottages

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