Alfred Lord Tennyson
Alfred Lord Tennyson, Queen Victoria’s Poet Laureate was born on August the 6th 1809, at what is now Somersby House but was then the Rectory.
He spent his youth wandering among the trees, along the brook and across the gently rolling hills of this most beautiful of pastoral landscapes, composing as he went what would become some of the most recognisable, celebrated and quotable verse in the English language.
Tennyson’s father – Dr George Clayton Tennyson – was the rector of St Margaret’s and the church of its namesake at nearby Bag Enderby. He housed his extensive library, the collection of a scholar and bibliophile.
Young Alfred – the fourth of twelve siblings – was often driven from the Rectory by his father’s black moods and violent temper, seeking solace among the gravestones of the church opposite his home.
The three eldest Tennyson boys first attended the tiny village school in Holywell Wood, which was most likely Holywell Cottage which later burned down sometime before 1838. Documents mention the school was closed after the local squire claimed that the children “were disturbing the game.”
Alfred then spent several very unhappy years at Louth Grammar School but was thereafter educated back in Somersby by his father.
Dr Tennyson realised Alfreds potential and encouraged him to write, though his grandfather – to whom Alfred had a written a poem for in memory of his grandmother – reputedly growled: “Here is half a guinea for you, the first you have ever earned by poetry – and take my word for it – the last…”
But two years later – in 1827 – he had his first work (Poems by Two Brothers) published by J. & J. Jacksons of Louth, earning himself and elder brother Charles the considerable amount of £20 (approximately £1500 now.)
When his father fell gravely ill and died in 1831, Alfred returned from Trinity College, Cambridge – where he was a less than studious undergraduate – to look after his family. He never returned to Cambridge to complete his degree, he stayed on in Somersby for another six years.
When his great friend Arthur Hallam suddenly died in 1833 – whilst in Vienna – the devastated poet began composing the lyrics and verses that would eventually become one of Queen Victoria’s favourites after the death of Prince Albert – In Memoriam (1850) and still used to this day at funerals and remembrance services. 1837 saw Alfred and his large family leave Somersby for good but their echo remained, as it does to this day.