The one substantial addition that Hallam Tennyson made was the construction of a large, second storey over the north wing of the house, which today constitutes the front of the hotel. The date of this extension is unclear but it is usually referred to as a nursery suite. Hallam and his wife, Audrey, had three sons: Lionel Hallam, the famous cricketer, 1889 – 1951; Alfred Aubrey, 1891-1918; and Harold Courtenay, 1896-1916. It is conceivable that this wing was therefore built to provide additional space for their young sons and the use of the word “nursery” would suggest a date before Hallam left for Australia in 1899. He returned from service in Australia in January 1904, by which time the boys would have been too old to need a nursery. Indeed, decent-sized bedrooms, for lodging guests were somewhat lacking, a fact acknowledged by Emily in 1856, when she wrote to George Venables,
“We should have to ask you to put up with a small room. We are very badly off for bedrooms.”
[The letters of Alfred Lord Tennyson, Vol. 2. 1851 to 1870. Edited by Cecil Y. Lang and Edgar F. Shannon, Jr. Clarendon Press, Oxford. 1987.]
In a letter of 1951, Rev. Macdonald-Millar wrote that he had heard that “ the overhanging second floor on north wing was built after Hallam Lord Tennyson returned from Australia c. 1905.” [M. Corr. 1951 Oct. 17] However, by 1955, he had corrected himself and was noting that “…the upper, overhanging storey on the North side was put after 1892 - no doubt by Hallam, Ld. Tennyson.” In the same letter, he adds, “… I understand that the overhanging N wing part was built by Hallam, Ld. Tennyson, after 1896.” [M. Corr. 1955 April 5] A photo of Farringford from the south by F. N. Broderick, taken in 1894, shows no sign of the second storey. [The Tennyson Album, Andrew Wheatcroft, London, Routledge, 1980.] However, in 1897, a picture appeared in an article on Tennyson in The Century magazine [Vol. LV. No. 2 December 1897] that showed the second storey had been added by that year. The extension must therefore date to between 1894 and 1897.
This second storey addition is constructed from yellow/buff brick, in stretcher bond on the south side and Flemish bond on the north side, and uses two cantilevered, I-section, iron joists to support the main brick structure. These two iron joists emerge on the south side of the structure and project some eight inches beyond the south façade. They sit on what was once the wall plate of the former north wing.
On the north side, an iron joist, supported by the latter two cross joists, runs the full length of the new wing. The north façade, instead of being in line with the flat north façade of the original house and north wing, is allowed to project about an extra three feet beyond, thus producing an overhanging storey and requiring the structural support of the longitudinal iron girder, that runs along the front of the north façade. The result is a clumsy, awkward-looking elevation, the appearance of which is worsened by the additions at the west end, which show poor abutment lines (not tied in); brickwork of a different colour; and a poorly-executed, structurally-weak extension with an iron girder and incongruous iron post as support. At some point, the 19th century veranda has needed strengthening with a buttress due to the added stress imposed by this second storey.
The actual phases of extensions at the west end have resulted in a somewhat awkward-looking, and structurally unsound development The 1862 Ordnance Survey Map clearly shows the veranda along the north side of the house. It also reveals that the north and the south wing have been joined at the western end with a passage and there is back entry through a porch, which is still extant. The conservatory runs along the south side. On the1898 Ordnance Survey Map, the south conservatory has been truncated by Tennyson’s new study. A small single storey L-shaped extension has been wrapped around the northwest corner and buts up against the back porch. Hallam Tennyson’s second floor has been added on the north wing but extends only as far as the end of the veranda. Between 1898 and 1907, it would seem that a storey in orange brick was built above the L-shaped ground floor extension but extended several feet out on the north side. In order to allow light to the ground floor window at the end of the main wing, this part of the extension was carried out on a jetty, supported by one iron post. The orange brick is incongruous with the buff brick of the original building and all the other extensions and might suggest this was added, while Hallam was away in Australia during the period 1899 to 1904 and was therefore not able to supervise the alterations himself. By the time of the 1907 Ordnance Survey Map, a west wing has been built at the same height as Hallam Tennyson’s second storey over the 1898 L-shaped extension. The old back porch had never been load-bearing and therefore was not tied into the fabric of the main building. However, once the extra two stories of this west wing were built above it, it required an iron girder to be placed laterally across its entrance and into the adjoining walls to carry the load. Two buttresses were required at some date to support the extra load on the west end of the house caused by the addition of Hallam’s several extensions: one supporting the veranda and the other on the pier at northwest corner supporting the orange brick first floor extension. In addition, an extra wing was added to the south west corner next to Tennyson’s 1871 study in buff brick and castellations.
Hallam also seems responsible for adding the supported bathroom annexe on the south east corner, which is accessed from the main south east bedroom. The 1898 Ordnance Survey map shows the original angled corner, similar to the north east corner of today. The 1907 Ordnance Survey map shows a square corner at this point, suggesting that the annexe had been built by that date. However, a photo included in a brochure (Tennyson and the Isle of Wight, A. Pratchett Martin, 1898) clearly shows this annexe addition, which can therefore be dated to the last part of 1898.
“ After the death of Lady Tennyson in 1896, Hallam and his wife Audrey continued to make Farringford their home, which since their marriage in 1884 they had shared with the poet and his wife. They were responsible for the building of a nursery suite over the north porch and colonnade while the light wood panelling in the ante-room adjoining the conservatory was brought over from Australia where Hallam became the first Governor General from 1902-1904 .”