My magical time in the Isle Of Wight is thanks to transport courtesy of Wightlink however all of the activities mentioned in this series are not sponsored
One of my favourite and must-see destinations of all is Farringford Estate, the home of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Poet Laureate from 1850 until his death in 1892.
This spot in Freshwater Bay was a treasured spot for the Tennyson family and made a truly idyllic secret spot away from the hustle and bustle of London where Tennyson had the seclusion he needed in order to write his breathtaking poetry.
On seeing the view from the drawing-room window of this imposing gothic house for the first time, the great Victorian poet’s wife, Emily, exclaimed, ‘I must have that view!”. And with that, in 1853, Farringford became their home and would remain with the family for two successive generations.
“Though much is taken, much abides; and though We are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”~ Alfred Lord Tennyson
Alfred Lord Tennyson is one of the most frequently quoted writers in history, still today as much as in the past, and this indeed does tell us a lot about the greatness of this ingeniously prolific Victorian British poet.
Tennyson was something of a child prodigy, who showed an early interest in writing that cemented his fate for the future, later becoming the Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria’s reign.
Once made into a hotel (that I actually stayed in as a little girl!) this beautiful Gothic house at Farringford has now been restored in late 19th century style to reflect Tennyson’s time here.
You will visit the Blue room, dining room, sitting room, his wife Emily’s small room, schoolroom and upstairs the bedrooms of Tennyson, Emily, his sons, daughter in law and the library where he wrote among other things the Charge of the Light Brigade.
Tennyson is perhaps most known for In Memoriam released in 1850, and it was the work that would become the magnum opus of his career who was seen as the successor to William Wordsworth.
For it is within In Memoriam that we find some of the most commonplaces in English Languages. These include: ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’, ‘Knowledge comes, but Wisdom lingers’ and ‘The old order changeth, yielding place to new’ all came in from the pen of this prolific Victorian poet. It’s fascinating to examine the influence of great works such as In Memoriam through a tour of his intimate surroundings and workings.
As well as writing Tennyson would have entertained many intellectuals and artists of the day including Edward Leah, Julia Cameron, Gladstone and Prince Albert. Lord Tennyson was also much-admired by the Pre-Raphaelite artists. These artists, like him, sought inspiration from poetry and, in common with the poet, favoured the themes and legends of the medieval period. It was so special to see illustrated copies of his work created by the Pre-Raphaelite at Farringford, as well as a plethora of other artistic works from the Victorian period.
“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you…I could walk through my garden forever.”~ Alfred Lord Tennyson
Tennyson drew inspiration from the rich and beautiful landscape that surrounded him in the Isle of Wight and his Farringford Estate, and lines for his poetry would come to him as he strode the downs in his distinctive wide-awake hat and cloak, photos of which can be found inside the house.
Both Idylls of the King and The Charge of the Light Brigade were written in Tennyson’s stunning library, with its breathtaking view across Freshwater and the sea. I can only begin to imagine how much this landscape and the peace and tranquillity inspired him.
Tennyson was also a keen gardener and this can clearly be seen in the beautiful blooming garden and grounds that are still so carefully maintained to this day. It looked even more spectacular at this time of year with some of the grandest, most opulent pumpkins I have ever seen! I’m not sure if the photos below will do the sight justice, but it was magnificent to see the riches of the season in such a grand way.
The Farringford Estate have kept the surroundings truly immaculate, and Tennyson himself was regularly tending to his grounds in a similar way by planting shrubs, raking leaves, and rolling seaweed onto the lawns for fertiliser, gathered from his coastal walks. His love of the natural world was such that he felt great remorse if flowers were ever picked from the garden, or gathered from the woods!
“Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”~ Alfred Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam
Some years ago the Farringford Estate was turned into a hotel and I actually stayed there as a little girl so the guide showed me where the guest bedrooms would have been. However, I’m so pleased it is now restored to its magnificent past as places like this should be treasured as they are.
With that being said, besides the Farringford Estate you can find self-catering cottages and I think this would be a truly idyllic spot to stay. The Freshwater area of the Isle Of Wight was without a doubt one of my favourite spots, and I think it would make the most glorious base for your adventures in the island, whilst soaking up all the goodness that so inspired Lord Tennyson. You can find out more about Farringford Cottage hire right here.
“The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions.”~ Alfred Lord Tennyson
“T is not too late to seek a newer world.~ Alfred Tennyson, Ulysses
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Mov’d earth and heaven, that which we are, we are:
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
How many of you have also been to Farringford on the Isle Of Wight? If you’re planning a trip, I highly recommend visiting!