Farringford is a Grade 1 Listed Building and was the main residence of the Poet Laureate Alfred, Lord Tennyson from 1853 until his death in 1892. It continued in the possession of the Tennyson family until 1945, when it was sold to British Holiday Estates Ltd, who converted the house into a hotel. Farringford remained a hotel until 2010, when work began to restore the building to its original condition as a historic home.
Occupying a level position overlooking land to the north and east towards Afton Down, Farringford is a local landmark that lies west of Freshwater Bay. Tennyson Down lies on its south side, running west to the Needles. The down is 147 metres at its highest point at Tennyson Monument and ranges down to 75 metres south of Farringford, while the house is only 35 metres above sea level.
The original house itself is essentially a large country villa, based on a Georgian plan and Georgian structural principles, but with superficial cosmetic Gothic features, such as castellated parapets, Gothic arched windows, a flattened arched veranda, a Gothic porch and internal Gothic ornamentation to doors and cornices. The house was constructed using buff-coloured brick in Flemish bond with a slate roof, and rests on a mixed stone foundation.
Farringford is unique on the Island in its style of architecture and its exterior form. Few other Gothic buildings have the same style of window or porch and there is no other building that has the same layout in the form of an extended U-shape. Most Gothic buildings of the 19th century are characterised by neo-Elizabethan features such as gables and square-headed windows with drip moulds above. In a way, Farringford represents a hybrid house, combining the ideas of proportion and symmetry integral to Georgian architecture with the imaginative flair of Gothic ornamentation.
Change has taken the form of extensions, rather than any rebuilding. The original house of Farringford has remained relatively intact, the only structural change being the repositioning of the entrance from the east to the north side. Over the years there have been a number of additions that have somewhat enveloped the original house and its neat Georgian frontage. Internally, where change has occurred, it has been in the function rather than the form of the rooms.
castellated parapet: A parapet (a low protective wall along the edge of a roof or balcony) with alternate raised and lowered sections, giving the appearance of a battlement.
drip mould: A projection from a cornice or sill that protects the area below – usually a window or doorway – from rainwater.
Flemish bond: Brickwork in which ‘header’ bricks (bricks with their width exposed) are separated by one ‘stretcher’ brick (bricks with their long narrow side exposed), in an alternate pattern.
square-headed window: A window that has a straight horizontal lintel above it.”