Five years ago, I wrote a blog about stumbling upon Farringford, the home famous Victorian writer Lord Alfred Tennyson. Back then the house was a hotel with extra self-catering properties. Since then the house and grounds have been restored back to what it was when Tennyson and his family lived there.
Unfortunately due to Covid restrictions, the house won’t be re-opened for tours until next year. But the grounds and gorgeous gardens are and a hot summers day, it was the perfect time to re-visit.
Lord Tennyson was a prolific writer and Poet Laureate of Great Britain during most of Queen Victoria’s reign. His famous works include “The Charge of the Light Brigade” and “The Lady of Shallot”. He came to Farringford in 1853 to escape the noise of London. For him and his wife Emily it was the perfect place to raise their family. Tennyson remained at the house until his death in 1892.
The house itself is Georgian but has a rather Gothic feel with it’s arched windows and castle-like roof. The grounds lead to rolling views over to the cliffs. But it’s the gardens that are really stunning. When we visited they were full of colourful blooms and growing fruit and vegetables. The Tennyson’s were great fans of gardening themselves, often to be found digging and planting in the beds.
The couple also hosted many of the great and good of the Victorian era including Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, Ellen Terry, Jenny Lind and even Prince Albert. In the garden is a sundial designed by Mary Seaton Watts, whose home and studio I also visited not long ago.
Not all visitors were welcome. Tennyson hated the tourists that would come nosing around. In fact he had a path that passed behind the house lowered so he could build a bridge across it to the downs beyond without bumping into them!
A short (and steep) upward walk behind the house takes you up to Tennyson Down. It was originally named High Down, but re-named after Tennyson who spent many hours walking up there. There’s even a monument to him pinned high above the sea, overlooking the stark cliffs and golden beaches below. I can imagine how inspiring it must have been. It’s an amazing place in the sunshine, but any time of year would produce spectacular scenes.
I’m not a big Tennyson fan, but I definitely enjoyed the day out and maybe next time I’ll get to visit the inside.
What do you think? Have you ever visited before? Please share in the comments.