A true labour of love can be the only fitting description for the huge undertaking of returning Farringford to its former glory. Built in 1802, Farringford became home to Poet Laureate Alfred, Lord Tennyson and his family in 1853 and remained so until his death in 1892.
The house stayed in the Tennyson family until it was sold to British Holiday Estates in 1945, who converted it into a hotel before selling it onto Pontins in the 60s. The house was sold again in 2006 and remained a hotel under the current ownership before closing in October 2009. The research and planning for the restoration began in 2010. Requiring tenacity and determination to restore its former glory, as the house had been chopped and changed so much since its original time, with many original features built over and structural issues neglected.
The actual restoration took over eight years, as strict heritage guidelines were followed, surveys were undertaken and historic building consent was sought. Painstaking research, sourcing and general detective work have helped to get the house as close to what Tennyson himself would have experienced. With precious little photos to go by, much of what has been achieved has been done so through hours spent reading Tennyson’s wife, Emily’s diaries, as well as detailed inventories. As the house was stripped back, exciting discoveries were made that also helped to shape the interior, such as a vivid blue wallpaper in the old Reception Room with newspaper dating from 1856 used as lining paper. The colour of the wallpaper has been replicated in the stunning ‘Blue Room’ as it is now known.
Today, you can visit and experience the house where Alfred Lord Tennyson lived as a husband, father and poet. You would be hard pressed to find another house of such historical and cultural importance, that has been so exacting in its restoration, which provides such a rare opportunity to be transported back to another time and place altogether.