The east drawing room extension was added during the period 1837 – 1853. This can be established from comparing the Tithe map of 1837 (on which it is NOT shown) with the 1863 Ordnance Survey (on which it is clearly shown) [See Below].
“ In or before 1825 the house was bought by John Hamborough who added the Gothic embellishments and extended the house westwards, creating most of the present frontage. This dates largely from 1825 – 33. Further east is the wing based on the older house, to which John Hamborough gave a new elevation. In 1844 he sold the estate to Reverend George Turner Seymour.
It was no doubt Hamborough, later (1833) to commission James Sanderson to design Steephill Castle at St. Lawrence who, as Sir Charles Tennyson noted, allowed the Gothic revival to touch Farringford “adding arched tops to fine rectangular windows and filling them with woodwork in the form of Gothic stone traceries. Shutters and interior panelling had Gothic motifs too, and about the roof…were very incongruous stone battlements”. On the east side, where the original entrance had been transferred when the drawing room was built, was erected a Strawberry Hill Gothic porch and long colonnade…” Even the Home Farm was improved. Pigsties were built “in the best Strawberry Hill manner, with a narrow covered corridor, which one entered and left through wooden archways with ecclesiastical traceries …”
Pevsner, Nikolaus and Lloyd, David, The Buildings of England, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight Penguin, 1967.
Although misguided and totally erroneous, Charles Tennyson speaks of a belief that “ visitors often think that the ruined arcade near the south-west corner of the house is a relic of the old monastic buildings.” He goes on to deny this saying, “ the “ruin” has never been anything else but what it is now, having been erected in the grounds as a piece of romantic ornament in accordance with an absurd but rather engaging fancy of the Gothic Revival, which was well under way when Farringford House was built. ” This well may be true of a previous original structure on the site but it is clear that the present stone wall (the “ ruined arcade”) is tied into one of a pair of gate-posts, that used to present a back entrance to the house off Green Lane. The 1837 tithe map shows this wall and entrance clearly on the same alignment . The gate-post itself is made of stone with 19th century brick dressings and is tied into the stone wall, which has only one plain lancet window remaining.
John Hambrough of Pipewell Hall in Northants bought the Farringford estate in 1823 [see Parish Poor Rate], and later in 1828 bought the estate of Steephill near Ventnor. In 1833 work started on building a house in the form of a ‘Gothic castle’ at Steephill and on its completion in 1835, John Hambrough relocated there in that same year and the focus of his attention accordingly switched to Steephill Castle. In fact, he may have been living in the Ventnor area before this date: there is a notice for the sale of “Farringford Hill” in the Hampshire Telegraph of 1832.
[Hampshire Telegraph, 1832 Aug. 20; Issue 1715.]
Failing to find a buyer, by 1836, the house was offered to buy or to let:
[Hampshire Telegraph, 1836 Sept. 5; Issue 1926.]
The house was still being advertised for let in 1839 [Hampshire Telegraph, 1839 Oct. 14; Issue 2088]. By 1841, Farringford was occupied by the gardener and his family: Henry and Ann Groves and their eight year old daughter, Emily [Census 1841]. In 1844, Rev. George Turner Seymour [see Reverend George Turner Seymour.] purchased Farringford and Middleton off John Hambrough:
Agreement [ JER/LTF/1] 1844 May 2
Sale and purchase of a mansion house called Farringford Hill, with coachhouse, stables, brewhouse, other outbuildings, gardens and appurtenances; Manor of Priors, and parcels of lands at Freshwater
1. John Hambrough of Steephill Castle, esq.
2. Reverend George Turner Seymour. of Farringford Hill, clerk
It may have been the marriage of Seymour.’s eldest daughter, Marianne-Billingsley, to R.B. Sewell of “Millbrook” (sic), Isle of Wight, in 1840, that induced Seymour. to look to purchase a place on the Island. [The Gentleman's Magazine by Sylvanus Urban, Gent. Vol. XIV, MDCCCXL July - December. London, 1840.] It may have been the Sewells who suggested Farringford to Seymour., as they were the agents offering it for sale. In August 1846, another of Seymour’s daughters, Jane, married John Coleridge at Freshwater church.
It has already been noted that the drawing room addition on the east was built during the period between 1837 and 1862. It has also been established that John Hambrough had moved to Steephill Castle in 1835 and rented the house out until 1844, when he sold it to Rev. Seymour.. The wooden surround of the fireplace, which seems to emulate the west façade of Winchester Cathedral is consistent with the Gothic tastes of a clergyman. It would seem therefore more likely that Rev. Seymour. was the architect of the east drawing room.
The Seymours were certainly living there by 1850:
“To the right, observe Farringford Hill, the property of John Hamborough, esq of Steephill*.”
* Now the residence of the Rev G Seymour. [Barber’s Picturesque Guide to the Isle of Wight. New Edition, 1850.]
This addendum does not appear in the original edition of 1847.
This is supported by the 1851 Census, which lists the Seymours as resident at Farringford:
Name Age Birth date & place
George T. Seymour , aged 59, abt 1792 Freshwater, Hampshire
Mary Seymour , aged 56, abt 1795 Freshwater, Hampshire
Henry F. Seymour , aged 24, abt 1827 Freshwater, Hampshire
Emily C. Seymour , aged 17, abt 1834, Freshwater, Hampshire
“ Before the poet's occupancy it was let to an eminent judge, who made it his summer residence. On his leaving it, the place was offered for sale, and the Laureate, attracted by the picturesqueness of the surrounding country, purchased it , …”
[The Homes and Haunts of Alfred Lord Tennyson Poet Laureate, George G. Napier. Glasgow, James Maclehose & Sons, 1892.]
Around 1853, Farringford was being let out as a holiday home to “Baron A.” and his family. The identity of Baron A. can be traced to Edward Hall Alderson, a Baron of the Exchequer from 1834. The reference to “Marchioness of S.” is theMarchioness of Salisbury, Alderson’s daughter, Georgina, who married Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury. There is the suggestion that around this time, in common with other houses let for the summer, that Farringford was somewhat uncared for as the Rev. H. R. Haweis, in his memoirs, remembers walking up the “neglected grass-grown gravel” drive, when visiting the Tennysons in 1854.
“ One autumn, when I was at Freshwater, an old house, Farringford, with a rambling garden at the back of the downs, was let to Baron A. – an eminent light of the Bench – and his charming family. I forget how they discovered my existence, but I dare say Lady A. and the young ladies found the place rather dull, and they were not the people to neglect their opportunities.
Lady A, with her beautiful grey hair, her sweet and dignified smile, and a soul full of musical sensibility, received me with the most flattering cordiality. The eldest young lady, now the Marchioness of S., I remember seeing once or twice only at Farringford. Table turning was all the fashion then. The Farringford circle was divided on the question, but the old baron was a sceptic.
We all sat around a heavy dining table one day, and the thing certainly began to go round, and was only arrested in its course through a large bay window by the hurried breaking up of the circle. I didn’t turn any more tables at Farringford, but Lady A used to beg me to come as often as I could and play. The Farringford music was not strong, as to pianoforte playing at least, but the youngest daughter, Miss M, little more than a child, had a sweet voice and seemed to me altogether an angelic being, and between them they managed to get through some of my easiest accompaniments. …
Soon after the A’s left Farringford, it was taken by the Poet Laureate .”
[Rev. H.R. Hawes: My Musical Life. W. H. Allen, 1884.]
Tennyson’s Discovery and Leasing of Farringford (1853-1856).
was the Honourable Sir Edward Hall Alderson, Baron of the Exchequer (1787 – 1857)
He was called to the Bar in 1811 and became Judge of the Court of Common Pleas in 1830. He was appointed Baron of the Exchequer in 1834. His daughter, Georgina Charlotte Alderson, married Robert Arther Talbot Gascoyne Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, who became Prime Minister as Lord Salisbury. He died in 1857 in London.
“ Alfred went to Bonchurch to his friends the James Whites, Edmund Peel and Feildens. From them he heard of Farringford as a place that might possibly do for us. He went and found it looking rather wretched with wet leaves trampled into the lawn. However, we thought it worth while to go and look at it together .” [Emily Tennyson’s Journal, October 1853.]
“The railway did not go further than Brockenhurst then and the steamer, when there was one from Lymington, felt itself in no way bound to wait for the omnibus which brought as many of the passengers as it could from the train. We crossed in a rowing boat. It was a still November evening. One dark heron flew over the Solent backed by a daffodil sky.
We went to Lambert’s, then Plumley’s Hotel smaller than now. Next day we went to Farringford & looking from the drawing-room window, thought ‘I must have that view’, and so I said to him when alone. So accordingly we agreed with Mr Seymour to take the place furnished for a time on trial with the option of purchasing .” [Emily Tennyson’s Journal, October 1853.]
“ In 1853, when Alfred and Emily Tennyson came to the house, the view was even more beautiful than it is today, for the trees in the park were lower, there were no houses visible either by Freshwater Bay or on the slopes of Afton Down and that splendid hill was not yet scarred by the Military Road. It was this view from the drawing room window that determined the Tennysons to take Farringford which, relatively small though the house then was, seemed a considerably larger place than their means justified .” [Charles Tennyson: Farringford, Home of Alfred Lord Tennyson. Tennyson Society, 1976]
“ On 11th November 1853, Tennyson agreed with the Seymours to rent Farringford for two pounds a week furnished, on a three year lease with an option to buy .”
Hyland, Paul, Wight. Gollancz, 1985.
November 25th 1853
“ A great day for us. We reached Farringford. It was a misty morning & two of the servants on seeing it burst into tears saying they could never live in such a lonely place. We amused ourselves during the autumn and winter by sweeping up leaves for exercise and by making a muddy path thro’ the plantation into a Sandy one .” [Emily Tennyson’s Journal, October 1853.]
Tennyson rented Farringford from 1853 to 1856.