Survey dates: 28 Aug. 2007, 27 Jan. 2008 , 1 Aug. 2008 , 25 Sept. 2008, 15 Oct. 2008..
The original house was a square main structure with two thin parallel wings running off from its west side; its plan thus resembled a large U. The elevations were constructed in Flemish bond using a predominantly buff-coloured brick, although variations range from a light yellow through to light grey. The main perimeter foundation walls are carried up to ground floor base level and form the outer walls of the cellars. They are constructed in coursed squared blocks from a mixture of local stone (blocks of Bembridge Limestone, Upper Greensand and ferruginous sandstone from the Bracklesham Beds). Buff brick was used for the exterior walls, that were visible to the public, while internal walls have made use of cheaper red bricks. The external wall is constructed from a double skin: the outer skin uses buff bricks in a double brick layer in Flemish bond, while the inner skin is another double brick layer, also in Flemish bond, but made with red brick.
The main roof is an M-shaped ridged structure in a slate covering, while the roofs of the domestic wings were formed from a long ridge roof covered again in slate. The double gable ends of the roof are hidden behind a joined gable in the shape of an isosceles trapezoid and so the roof is hidden from view . Originally a rudimentary castellated parapet ran along the front of the house (the present east side and this is still extant) [See Title Picture] . and the back of the main block (the west side; only half existant). This style was copied in the various later additions to the house. However, from pictures, it is clear that the two domestic wings were never furnished with castellations - both roofs terminated in plain eaves. The gable ends of the house are covered in buff mathematical tiles, which formerly covered the north and south gable elevations, down to the ground floor bay roof.
The south and north side of the main house each have a two storey projecting bay. Originally these were only ground floor bays with a projecting stone string course, with a drip groove, running about 18 inches below the eaves. The original eaves line of the original pent roof, which covered the bays behind a low parapet, reveals itself as a visible change in brick colour between the original bay (light yellow, buff brick) and the first floor addition (light grey, darker buff brick. The first floor of this bay is not tied into the main building, as a visible join line from the top of the ground floor bay up to the parapet is evident.
Each bay elevation consists, on both storeys, of a pair of Gothic four-centred arched window openings. Each of these contains a frame with a pair of four-centred arched sash windows with Gothic tracery [glazing bars in the form of a series of three interlacing Gothic arches] and a quatrefoil ornament set in the head of the wooden frame. These windows follow a similar 18th century pattern to that of windows shown in pattern books of the mid 18th century, a style based on the Early English style of stone tracery, found in Medieval religious architecture [The builder's companion, William Pain example, 1769; Ancient architecture, restored, and improved, Batty Langley example, 1742 ] , only in the case of the Farringford examples, they have been depressed and widened. These are typical Gothic windows of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Regency period and can be found in buildings in Britain from about 1750 to 1820. In between the pair of Gothic windows on the north bay ground floor is a half-width arched opening consisting of only one four-centred arch window, but with the same tracery as the main windows. A similar window was inserted into each canted side of the bay . On the west side, both these windows have been blocked up due to superimposed additions (the conservatory and the north porch) . In between the pair of Gothic windows on the north bay first floor is a small rectangular window, which lights a small passage between two bedrooms, but which is now used as a walk-in cupboard. The south bay has a small square window between the two main Gothic windows, now totally concealed by the climbing magnolia and this was the original arrangement for both sides. It would seem that, when the passage in the ground floor bay between the two northern rooms was blocked off, the half size arched window was inserted to provide a view for the alcove area that developed from the former passage.
On the first floor of the east front, there were three bedroom windows, consisting of arched openings, each containing only one four-centred arch window with the same tracery as the ground floor windows. The north and south side at first floor level originally had no windows, the first floor bedrooms being lit by windows on the east and west side (flat arch window). But at a later date both the ground floor bays were raised to the attic level and windows of the same form and style as the ground floor were inserted. The roof of this two storey bay is a slate pent roof with a wide lead gutter. This flat gutter is ringed by a castellated parapet of similar style to the original parapet on the east front of the house.
The original attic windows were narrow rectangular openings in both the north and the south gable ends. However, Alfred Tennyson raised the ceilings in these attic rooms and inserted French windows, producing the frontage of today. The false attic windows on the east front are narrow rectangular openings, filled with carved wooden Gothic ornamentation mimicking the patterns found in 18th century friezes. They all have Elizabethan-type drip moulds in timber around the top edge . The centre window has a quatrefoil in the centre flanked by a pair of diamonds containing a symmetrical leaf motif. This central window is flanked by two windows, whose ornamentation is different. This pair of windows both have a central quatrefoil between a triplet of arched frames containing a carving in the shape of a pole or tower, that is the same as those above the north porch.
On the north front of the house is a buff brick veranda consisting of five depressed arches, including keystones surmounted by a simple castellated parapet. The brick used in this are different in colour to those of the original house, being slightly more grey in colour [similar to the bricks used in the first floor for the north and south bays]. However, the west end of the veranda has not been tied into the fabric of the main house.
Sandwiched between this and the north bay of the main house, and projecting slightly beyond the line of the veranda, the porch consists of a flat roof with shallow canted ends, the whole supported by four columns of bunched shafts. The front of this porch is surmounted by a frieze: a series of arched frames, which contain an alternating pattern of a diamond and a tapering pole or tower with staged rings. On top of this, there is a further battlemented parapet, but each castellation contains a hollow quatrefoil. The columns are a very similar to those shown in a pattern book of 1753 by Batty Langley. The porch and the veranda both have stone slab paving. The construction of this porch necessitated the infilling of the northwest window of the north bay of the main house.
On the west corner of the veranda, a buttress in buff brick has been erected to support the veranda's west wall from lateral forces, induced by the addition of a large third storey on the north wing . Against the west pier of the c.1900 hanging storey in the north west corner, a further buttress was deemed necessary to cope with the structural stresses that excessive, super-imposed extensions had caused in this corner of the building .
The fenestration of the north domestic wing underneath the veranda consists of a confused number of archways and window openings, running along the ground floor of the north wing, and confirms two phases. The windows are similar to the Gothic windows of the main building and were required when the veranda was constructed . At irregular intervals, there are narrow, tall arches that have been in-filled with brick , which seem to have correspondence with similar in-filled arches in the south wall of the south wing. These now find themselves inside the conservatory; one of these arches has been truncated by a wall Tennyson's 1871 library/study extension. These tall arches are in fact a blind arcade and the present arrangement and state of the arches and windows suggests that the original domestic wings only had windows facing into the intervening courtyard. The outside walls were fitted with narrow tall arches surely as ornament.
On the east side of the house (original frontage), there is there is an extension of buff brick in Flemish bond with false gable ends on the north and south side . This was built to provide a more spacious drawing room and more convenient views. To this end a large bay window is situated on the east side, allowing easterly vistas. The two ground floor windows, that originally flanked front entrance, have now been inserted into the south and north ends of this extension, but are 'false' windows in that they have simply been let into the north wall but provide no opening into the drawing-room - they are simply ornamental.
The roof of this drawing room is composed of a slate hipped roof with an adjoining flat roof. The north false gable is said to have concealed a small chimney stack, which formerly connected with a fireplace at the end of the drawing-room. It is most likely that this has been confused with a small chimney stack that runs up the exterior of the front facade near the north east corner of the main building. It has been cut off just above the flat roof over the drawing room. It would seem that it led down to a small fireplace in the north west corner of the drawing room. The Rev. Macdonald-Millar speculated that there may have been " originally a fireplace in the north end of the drawing room where the bookshelves and alcove arches were later built." [1955 Sept. 4] Indeed, in 1956, an exploratory survey was carried out by Thomas Cook & Son to ascertain whether there was a secret passage behind the main fireplace in the drawing room , as the children had maintained. A compartment was found on the north east side of the main house (the north west side of the present drawing room) which led into the cellar. However, this turned out to be the north cellar window that had been blocked up when the drawing room was built. Despite this, another fire-place was "discovered behind the book case at this north-east (sic) corner, which as you know backs on to a dummy window." [Letter from George Pile, Acting Press Officer for Thomas Cook & Son to Sir Charles Tennyson, 23 Feb. 1956, Tennyson Research Centre] This fire-place is most likely to be the one that connects with the chimney breast on the north east corner of the main house. The stone string course of the main original building has been copied and extended around this extension.
The three first storey front bedroom windows have now undergone alterations: the southern window has now been in-filled to allow for the small bathroom annexe on the south east corner (inserted in c.1897) . The central window remains in its original form, while the northerly window has been converted into a small narrow bay with French windows opening onto the roof.
The two main chimney stacks are in buff brick and are positioned in the valley between the two hipped roofs and are equidistant from the gable ends.
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. 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 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. Hallam Tennyson’s second floor has been added on top of the north wing but extends only as far as the end of the veranda. By 1898, it would seem that a small single storey L-shaped extension in orange brick and in stretcher bond had been wrapped around the north west corner of the north wing (the original wing extended about nine feet beyond the end of the veranda and at this point the concrete pseudo-plinth, that runs round the exterior of the main house ends ). Underneath its west face, the end of the original north wing has been extended out several feet westwards in buff brick and in stretcher bond to support the extra width of the new floor above . The north face of this L-shaped addition 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 has been carried out on a jetty, using two wooden joists, supported in the middle by one iron post and at the end by a brick pier in buff brick. The west window (segmental arch) of this orange brick extension has now been blocked up. The north window on the first floor is a segmental arch opening with a square wooden frame containing a copy of the Gothic windows of the main house . The window in the old wing underneath contains two square timber casement windows of six lights each in a pointed segmental arch. 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.
The west wing is the same height as Hallam Tennyson’s second storey and has been erected over the L-shaped extension. It is built in buff brick in stretcher bond and has Gothic windows in imitation of the main building. The old back porch has an iron girder placed laterally across its entrance and into the adjoining walls to carry the load. Two buttresses at the north west corner 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 has been added to the south west corner next to Tennyson’s 1871 study. This is a two storey block in stretcher bond, using buff brick, with the occasional salmon pink brick . Original windows still exist on the first floor. These are segmental brick arch openings, in which pointed arch casement windows, with Y-shaped tracery and simple spandrels, in square wooden frames, have been inserted. These resemble the Gothic windows of the rest of the house, although without the ornamental details. A small bowed, filling timber section completes the head of the window. The ground floor windows have been replaced with more modern timber or uPVC casement windows. A hipped slate roof is hidden behind brick parapet, topped with castellations, made from brick and rendered in cement, in mimicry of the older parts of the roof.
On the south side of this, a modern kitchen extension in modern buff brick has been built with a flat, felted roof. When this was built, the chimney breast on the west wall of the New Study was removed up to first floor level and the remaining base of this chimney stack was stepped inwards towards the wall with noticeably more modern bricks, although bricks with a similar firing colour pattern were used. On the west side, there is a small, windowless lean-to extension in modern red brick.
The north wing was originally a two-storey building but is now a three-storey structure. The top story was added 1898. The original wing is in buff brick and Flemish bond and is fronted by a veranda. The roof of the veranda was extended halfway up the facade of the original first story, such that the latter has effectively become an entre-sol . The windows of this story open out onto the veranda roof. The windows over the porch area are square casement windows with wooden window frames, as are all the original windows in the domestic wings. This fact would therefore suggest that the Gothic windows of the ground floor of the north wing were a later addition, most probably inserted at the same time as the veranda was built. The remaining windows of the entre-sol above the veranda are Gothic arched windows with spandrels, inserted into square-headed openings. All the windows of the entre-sol sit immediately below the former roof line of the original wing, betrayed by two lines of projecting brick courses. The window under the oriel would appear to be a later addition as the Gothic arches [both outer frame and tracery] has slightly more width and depression than the other windows. In addition, different coloured and newer mortar around the opening suggests a rebuild.
The second story is cantilevered out on a set of three H-section cast iron joists which run transversely through the whole width of the north wing, aligning perpendicularly to the axis of the north wing and emerging on the south side. On top of these iron joists, one long iron joist, running longitudinally along the forefront of the second story, supports the mass of the story. In the middle of this story, there is a small projecting wooden oriel, containing two pointed arch windows with ornamented spandrels on the front. Round the top of this oriel, there is an ornamented frieze in a similar style to the one above the windows of Tennyson's new study extension on the south side. The remaining windows are Gothic arched windows, in imitation of the original windows in the main house, but these have been inserted into conventional openings with a flattened segmental arch, therefore necessitating the insertion of spandrels in the top corners.
Like the north wing, the original south wing had no windows on its south elevation, but instead, it had tall, narrow arches, spaced irregularly along its face. These were in-filled with brick and would seem to have been purely for ornament. At a later date, possibly when the veranda was constructed along the north front, a conservatory/greenhouse was erected along almost the whole of the south side with closely-set straight parallel glazing bars . That this was built at a different date to anything else is suggested by the fact that red brick was used for this rather than the usual buff brick . When Tennyson's new library/study was built in 1871, this necessitated the truncating of the greenhouse/conservatory to its present length, nestling between the new study and the south bay of the main house.
In buff brick and in Flemish bond, this new study extension is a rectangular structure attached alongside to the west end of the South domestic wing . However, while it uses good buff bricks on the front, on the rear elevation, poorly burnt bricks of buff with square/rectangular salmon pink or orange patches have been used and this is even more evident on the west side. On its south side, it has a bay window with Gothic windows matching those of the main house. The string course of simple wooden Gothic design runs along between the windows and the eaves and has been continued along the elevation of the south domestic wing above the greenhouse/conservatory until it meets the wall of the south bay of the main house.
A red brick chimney-stack is extant on the east side of the north wall, but identifying the fireplace, to which this was connected, has proved difficult. This has been cut off at first floor level; it has been stepped inward at its base. There is no evidence of a chimney breast inside the roof space of the south service wing or on the wall at first floor level. The majority of the body of the chimneystack is set back into fabric of the New Study such that most of it emerges form the roof of the New Study. This would suggest that the fireplace opens out in either the study or the ballroom. However, there is a possibility that this chimney is connected with an arched feature under the small staircase up to the ballroom , which is on the same alignment as the chimneystack.
The stringcourse is a timber frieze with a repeating pattern of quatrefoils set in a circular shape. This has been set immediately below the eaves of the original roof and above the windows. Above the frieze there is now a two and a half feet parapet topped with a row of concrete castellations. The parapet and the frieze were erected at the same time as the new study in 1871. Also in that year, new windows were inserted into the first floor elevation above the conservatory [compare Picture A & Picture B]. The original window was one long square-headed casement window, but this was replaced with the a row of three closely set, square-headed windows, separated by a narrow brick division, one brick wide. The middle window frame is a double window, flanked on both sides by a frame with triple windows. Each window consists of two parts: a lower tall casement, divided into two equal lights and an upper Gothic pointed arch window with spandrels above.
In 1952, a new single storey dining room extension in buff brick was added on the south of the ‘ball room’, the full length of the New Study block [compare Picture A & Picture B]. The windows from the ground floor of the ballroom were reused in the new south front of this extension. The ornamental frieze was replaced immediately above the heads of the window on the west side and the French windows on the east side, while a similar sized, blank cement rendered strip was inserted above the south side windows. It is possible that the frieze above the bay windows of Tennyson's new study was removed at this time to provide extra lengths of this pattern for the new dining room extensions, and were thus replaced with the present blank cement rendered strips. On the east side, these French windows gave access to the garden. A flat roof was ringed by a castellated parapet in keeping with the rest of the eave-lines.
Later in the early 60s, the dining room was extended to the south and east, engulfing the base of the tower on the south east side of the ballroom. The west and east walls of the 1952 extension were now extended southwards, while the south facade of the 1952 dining room was reinstated as the south side . Along the full length of the east side of this new extension, a further lower addition provided more space: this has a flat roof and large modern square casement windows in wood.
An old connecting corridor between north and south wings at the west end is now absorbed within the large c. 1900 additions in this area. The back entrance doorway is a four-centred arch and is still extant . The walls of this small corridor are in buff brick in Flemish bond. The remains of the iron door pintles can be seen in the jambs on either side of this doorway: this suggests a double door here. The porch is a later addition, but this too is in buff brick Flemish bond.
On top of the cross passage bay, the hotel erected a large, cement-rendered, square water reservoir tank , presumably in 1946, when the house was converted to a hotel.
A short distance away from the north west corner of the house stands a small building of one single room. This is a boiler room, built by the hotel company to house the boiler of the heating system. This building is not shown on the 1942 Ordnance Survey map. The walls are built from a mixture of stone types: ferruginous sandstone, chalk and limestone. The top portion of the building is a later addition, as the stone is neater and more regular, with more modern brick dressings. A large chimney was erected for removing exhaust gases.