Tennyson Avenue, KT3

Place Name

Although seemingly named and spelt after Alfred Tennyson (August 6, 1809 – October 6, 1892), or Alfred Lord Tennyson as he came to be known, the Poet Laureate during much of Queen Victoria’s reign, this may have taken its inspiration from Archbishop Thomas Tenison. The road was laid out over a former farm sometime between the First and the Second World Wars, with some of the land being used for sports grounds. Among those based here were the Archbishop Tenison’s Grammar School, named after its founder Thomas Tenison (September 29, 1636 – December 14, 1715) who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1694 until his death. During his primacy, he crowned two British monarchs. An educational philanthropist, in 1714, Tenison, by then Archbishop of Canterbury, founded a school for some “ten poor boys and ten poor girls” in Croydon, having earlier founded a school in Lambeth. However, the name may have been inspired by the churchman, it is named after one of the most popular British poets, Alfred Tennyson. He 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 were, and remain, popular subjects for road names by developers, Byron Avenue, built earlier, is nearby.


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