Faringford Road, E15

Place Name

A corruption of Farringford. This is one of a small cluster of streets commemorating Alfred Tennyson (August 6, 1809 – October 6, 1892), or Alfred Lord Tennyson, as he came to be known, who was Poet Laureate during much of Queen Victoria’s reign. Tennyson’s fame as a poet may have brought him financial stability but it also came with a lot of unwanted attention. After being named Poet Laureate he found himself plagued by unwanted visitors and was forced to move twice to escape them. In March 1851 he moved to Chapel (or Holyrood) House, Montpelier Row, Twickenham, but with the coming of the railway to the area he constantly being bothered by people dropping in. This, and the complaint that the area smelled of cabbages, meant that he began searching for a more secluded property. In November 1853, he thought that he had found the ideal home Farringford House, near Freshwater, on the Isle of Wight, which was available for rent from the Seymour family. He went to look at the house and found a substantial building in the neo-Gothic style. He was convinced enough to bring his wife, Emily, over for a viewing. Freshwater was very remote in the 1850s, and, having missed the steamer from Lymington, the Tennysons made the crossing in a rowing boat. Emily was immediately struck by the view from the drawing room window, and they decided that they would rent Farringford, furnished, with an option to purchase. By the following decade the Isle of Wight had become a fashionable resort and, once again, he found his personal privacy under siege especially in the summer months with some particularly insistent tourists, anxious to catch a glimpse of the great man, climbing trees or walking into the garden. Fed up, he had a new property built in the even more remote location of West Sussex, where he lived during the tourist season. Tennyson was born in Somersby, Lincolnshire, where his alcoholic father was rector. The separation of his parents led the teenager to grow up concerned about his own mental health and plagued him with money worries for years to come. He was extremely short-sighted and needed a monocle to be able to see to eat. The mixed reception of his early works published in 1832, which included the first version of The Lady of Shalott, stung him; but his fortunes changed following the success of two volumes published in 1842. This included a new version of The Lady of Shalott; Break, Break, Break; and Ulysses. A favourite of Prince Albert, he was appointed Poet Laureate, succeeding William Wordsworth in 1850, a position that allowed him to marry his childhood sweetheart Emily Sellwood. As laureate he wrote The Charge of the Light Brigade, a dramatic tribute to the British cavalrymen involved in an ill-advised charge on October 25, 1854, during the Crimean War. Other works include Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington and Morte d’Arthur. He also dedicated The Idylls Of The King to the memory of Albert. At Queen Victorian’s insistence, he accepted a peerage, which he had previously turned down when it was offered by both Gladstone and Disraeli. Poets and playwrights are, and remain, popular subjects for street names by developers. Tennyson Road and Aldworth Road are nearby.

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