Isle of Wight Guided Tours

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Freshwater Bay - Tennyson's Celebrity Circle

Freshwater (Bay) - Tennyson and His Celebrity Circle

Alfred Lord Tennyson was Queen Victoria’s poet laureate and lived at Farringford, Freshwater Bay for around 40 years. A Celebrity Circle formed around the great poet (now better known as ‘The Freshwater Circle’). The term included his great friend and neighbour portrait photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, painter G.F. Watts, actress Ellen Terry, dramatist Henry Taylor, nonsense-rhyme writer Edward Lear, astronomer John Herschel, novelist William Makepeace Thackeray and writer daughter Anny, photographer and author Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ fame) and more besides.

Freshwater Bay - Tennyson's Celebrity Circle Freshwater Bay - Tennyson's Celebrity Circle Freshwater Bay - Tennyson's Celebrity Circle
  • A guided stroll around the village, identifying the various locations where members of the Circle lived or stayed (alongside other notable celebrities of the day - or indeed, subsequently).

  • A visit to Farringford – its interior now beautifully restored and open to the public on certain days of the week (audio-guided tour, chargeable and must be pre-booked). Alternatively you can opt for a garden only tour.

  • A visit to neighbouring Dimbola - (entrance chargeable – except for tearoom visit only) - former home of Calcutta-born Julia Margaret Cameron, pioneer portrait photographer. Permanent exhibition of her work and wide-ranging temporary photographic exhibitions. Also, a permanent photographic exhibition of the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, staged close by.

  • St. Agnes Church - the Island’s only thatched church, built with money donated by the poet’s elder son.

  • Refreshment - either in Dimbola or The Piano Café –named in honour of the fact that it was once the workplace of Queen Victoria’s piano tuner.

Tour normally ends here. But for those now energised enough to wish to take a quick climb up onto Tennyson Down, where the great man himself strode out on a twice-daily basis, then who are we to hold you back!

Freshwater Bay - Tennyson's Celebrity Circle 

You might like to watch this video that I made recently, based on my research in Calcutta into Julia Margaret Cameron’s early years there. However, I have carried her story through to include her time living next door to poet laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson in Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight. Here she effectively started and ended her career as a pioneer portrait photographer. I really hope you enjoy it, and that it will inspire you to visit us both in Freshwater itself and on the Island generally. We will be so happy to introduce you to more about this delightful place and the many famous and fascinating people who once called it their home: