Feb 17th, 2012 | | Portfolio | Private Houses | Residences | No Comments

Tennyson House, Twickenham

Montpelier Row, Twickenham, faces east over Marble Hill Park. The houses were built in about 1721 by a retired naval officer Captain John Gray, who seems to have acquired sufficient prize money to invest it in land and property in the area. As well as constructing 24 houses in Montpelier Row he also built 10 in nearby Sion Row.

Tennyson House is a 3 storey house with basement and is 4 bays wide. It is built of red and brown brick with a fine carved doorcase.

The house is named after Alfred Tennyson, who came to live here with his wife in March 1851, soon after being appointed Poet Laureate.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Chapel House (as it was)1 charmed Alfred Tennyson when he first viewed it in 1850, though he was 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!2

Tennyson negotiated with the landlord and managed to rent the house in 1851, after all. His son Hallam was born in the house in 1852 and baptised at St. Mary’s Church, Twickenham.

Tennyson wrote “Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington”, published in 1852, while living at the house.

He began to find Twickenham too close to London, with too many visitors now that the railway had arrived. He also complained of the smell of cabbages in the vicinity. In November 1853 he left for the seclusion of Farringford in the Isle of Wight and his widowed mother Elizabeth Tennyson moved into Chapel House.3

Tennyson House was bought by Pete Townshend, of The Who in 1985, and sold by his wife Karen Townshend in 2008 after the couple separated in the mid-nineties. The Townshends raised their children in the home, and Pete Townshend maintained a studio in the cottage on the property where he wrote and recorded songs.

The house was seriously damaged by a fire during refurbishment in 2005. Although there was little interior fire damage, the panelling and ceilings suffered water damage which required restoration.

Blue Plaque - credit Open Plaques

The Blue Plaque – credit Open Plaques

Because of its historical significance, the house is commemorated by a Blue Plaque. It is listed as Grade II* by English Heritage.

I was asked to advise on paint and colour matters.

An estate agents brochure on the house can be seen HERE.

1 The house was also once known as Holyrood House.
2 Text extract from Lang & Shannon (ed.), The Letters of Alfred Lord Tennyson, vol. 2. Oxford: Clarendon, 1987.
3 Information from the Twickenham Museum website.

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