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Page last updated at 11:36 GMT, Tuesday, 28 July 2009 12:36 UK
Tennyson's 200th anniversary

Tennyson spent much of his life on the Island and wrote several of his best known works there

Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Alfred, Lord Tennyson was one of Britain's finest poets

August 2009 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth one of the greats of the poetry world.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson moved to west Wight in 1853 and was closest thing the Victorians came to a 'celebrity'.

Tennyson, and his wife Emily, lived at Farringford, overlooking Freshwater Bay.

A series of special celebration events are marked the anniversary in the heart of the countryside Tennyson found so inspiring.

Queen Victoria, who also had an Island residence, Osborne House, was reportedly a fan of his poetry and appointed Tennyson Poet Laureate, succeeding William Wordsworth.

The view from Tennyson's drawing room

The spectacular coastal scenery inspired some of Tennyson's best poetry - including Maud, The Charge of the Light Brigade and Crossing the Bar.

Although he initially rented Farringford, he was able to purchase it with the profits he made from his poem, Maud.

Tennyson held court in Farringford, attracting the great and the good of Victorian society - including Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, Bram Stoker, Charles Darwin and Prince Albert - to the Isle of Wight to hear his poems and discuss the issues of the day.

He died in 1892 and was buried in Westminster Abbey and Emily's tomb is in All Saints Church at Freshwater. Farringford is now a hotel but recognisable as the Tennysons' house.

Tennyson Down

The National Trust now owns much of the coastal countryside, now known as Tennyson Down.

The challenging downland between Freshwater and the Needles with spectacular views over to the Solent and mainland attract thousands of walkers each year.

The 12-mile Tennyson Trail passes Farringford as well as the Tennyson Monument.

Within the 33 acres surrounding the house is a bridge that Tennyson built so he could get access to the countryside avoid the 'cockneys' (his name for tourists), avoiding his legions of fans.


2009 marks the 200th anniversary of Tennyson's birth and there are special bicentennial events organised by the hotel.

Tennyson's bridge
Tennyson's bridge which he had built from his garden out onto the Downs

The recently restored library was officially opened with a 'Tennyson at Farringford' exhibition - featuring some of his his furniture, paintings and manuscripts - running until 27 August.

Meanwhile on the cliffs overlooking Freshwater Bay, a new toposcope - a polished slate panel showing the direction and distance to visible landmarks - was unveiled next to the Tennyson Memorial.

It is edged with words from another of Tennyson's most famous poems, Crossing the Bar.


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