Alfred's grandfather was a highly ambitious and social-climbing solicitor. He owned two houses - one of these was Tealby Lodge (later called Bayons Manor) in Tealby. The house is now in ruins, having been blown up in 1964 - deliberately blown up as it was in a state of decay - but I found this print online ...
|Delusions of grandeur|
|Front of the Rectory|
His parishes were Great Grimsby, Benniworth, Bag Enderby, and Somersby, where they lived in the Rectory.
Alfred was born on August 6th, 1809, the fourth of twelve children. All but the first child, a boy, survived. The boys all grew tall and good looking and the girls were renowned for their beauty.
|Alfred Lord Tennyson, The back of the Rectory at Somersby,|
The Church at Somersby (I couldn't get it all in one photo because of a yew tree!)
|Borrowed image of Schoolhouse Lane, Louth|
Alfred had a reputation for being very strong and is reputed to have amused guests of the household by carrying a Shetland pony around the rectory lawn. Once, he was sitting next to an open window in his bedroom and answered the hoot of an owl so realistically that the bird flew in. It became very tame and would sit by him while he wrote, rubbing its beak against his face.
I can imagine that it must have been a very lively and noisy household, presided over by his mother, Elizabeth. She produced a baby almost every year - which must have been exhausting in itself! Factor in the moods and depression of her sometimes hostile and violent husband and her life was not an easy one. During the 1820's George suffered breakdowns and life became very difficult for them all. One of Alfred's brothers became an alcoholic and an opium addict, another was put into an asylum. During one violent quarrel George threatened to kill his oldest son. He took to keeping a knife and a loaded gun at the rectory openly threatening to use them on him.
This is the interior of Somersby church, including the font where Tennyson was baptised. It is a small attractive church, which still has its 15 foot high, 15th century churchyard cross. Amazingly the Roundheads gave it a miss during their tour of destruction. I much preferred the little church at Bag Enderby, just half a mile away across a couple of fields. Young Alfred would definitely have spent much time in and around both of them.
Alfred's father died in 1831, his health and his mental well-being had deteriorated over the years and he succumbed to typhus. Neither his father, nor his brother Charles, attended his funeral in Somersby. The grandfather provided a reasonable allowance for the family to enable them to continue living in the Rectory. Alfred and two of his brothers had to leave Cambridge University as their grandfather refused to fund them. He tried to push Alfred into being ordained, but he was having none of it.
He was born for other things!
Alfred Lord Tennyson was the most popular poet of the Victorian era and was made Poet Laureate at the insistence of Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert. It is recorded that one year he earned £10,000 from his poetry - a fortune in those days.
He died in 1892 and is buried in Poets Corner in Westminster Abbey.