Many of Alfred Tennyson’s lyrical poems, including “The Lady of Shalott” (1832) and “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (1855) are regularly anthologized for children. From 1851 to 1853, the poet lived at Chapel House, (now No. 15) Montpelier Row, Twickenham, the same row where the poet Walter de la Mare was to live nearly a century later. In 1851 Alfred was newly married and had just been appointed Poet Laureate. Although he would soon tire of Twickenham, Chapel House impressed him greatly.
He was charmed when he first viewed it in 1850 and dismayed to learn that it had already been let. He recorded in a letter:
The most lovely house with a beautiful view in every room at top … A large staircase with great statues and carved and all rooms splendidly papered … and all for 50 guineas! A lady has taken it. I cursed my stars! (Lang & Shannon, eds., 1987)
After further talks with the landlord, the house became available to them after all. In 1852, his son Hallam was born in the house and baptized at St Mary’s Church, Twickenham. Alfred’s friend F. T. Palgrave was the vice-principal at a teacher training college at nearby Kneller Hall during this time. Alfred also wrote “Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington” (1852) while living here. His former home is now marked by a private plaque. The house was bought in 1985 by Pete Townshend of The Who.
- Lang & Shannon (eds.), The Letters of Alfred Lord Tennyson, vol. 2. Oxford: Clarendon, 1987. As quoted by Thorn, 1992.
- Rennison, Nick. The London Blue Plaque Guide. Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1999.
- Thorn, Michael. Tennyson. London: Little, Brown, 1992.
- Watson, Victor, ed. The Cambridge Guide to Children’s Books in English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
- Wheatcroft, Andrew. The Tennyson Album: A Biography in Original Photographs. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980.
- Photo of Alfred Tennyson. Photographed at Manchester, 1857, by James Mudd, a few years after the poet’s time in Twickenham.
- Chapel House, Twickenham. Photo copyright © Terri McCargar.
- Plaque at Chapel House, Twickenham. Photo copyright © Terri McCargar.