Memories of Tennyson
The Leeds Mercury (Leeds, England) published an article entitled “Memories of Tennyson” (1809-1892) on Saturday, November 10, 1900. The article was written by a member of the Rawnsley family who was connected to the Walls family by the marriage of Sophia Walls, sister of Mary Walls who lived in the Skegness Moat House. Mary and Sophia’s father, the Rev Edward Walls, built the Moat House. An extract (which is of particular local interest) from the article is reproduced below:
It was not only Somersby that tradition of the poet’s boyhood lingered on.
Down by the shore of the Wash, at Mablethorpe, and at Skegness, with its far-receding tidal sea, its wastes of wrinkled sand, its shining creeks, its wind-blown rushy ‘rampire’ had young Tennyson wandered and gathered the shell “small, but a work divine,” had heard the great seas fall head-heavy upon the beach, or watched them “draw backward from the land their moon-led waters white,” and lost in thought had paced “the sands marbled with moon and cloud.”
For Skegness, or Skeggy, as it was more familiarly called in those days, was the rendezvous of all the local gentry between Horncastle and the coast.
A Lincolnshire squire discovered Skegness, and his sister, Miss Walls, built a house for herself and a hostel for their friends – hostel sacred in my memory by reason of certain curd cheesecakes made, as none other before or since has made them, by Dame Hildred, the hostess.
Thither, as lads, the Tennysons came, and the Coast-guard men and the shrimpers knew them well. Skeggy was not a second Blackpool then, and these old fellows – some of whom fought with Nelson – as they paced the sea-blown “rampire” saw an occasional “booby-hutch,” or covered car, coming from miles away, across “the waste, enormous marsh.” If it was not Rawnsley’s, or Maddison’s, or Alington’s, or Massingberd’s, or Wall’s, or Brackenbury’s, it was Tennyson’s “booby-hutch” that came from afar across the wonderful whispering marsh, whose “trenched waters ran from sky to sky;” and as sure as the Tennysons came to Skegness, Skegness made a note of it.
We are told that the lovers of Tennyson will still find in Lincolnshire an unchanged Somersby, an unchanged Louth, and a changeless Mablethorpe and Gibraltar Point, the latter “a very sea wilderness,” near Skegness, in which the poet took delight.
The friends of the poet’s boyhood included Rosa Baring, a charming girl, and Sophy Rawnsley (the author’s aunt), to both of whom he addressed verses. To the last-named we owe the information that young Alfred was fond of dancing.
Source: The Leeds Mercury (Leeds, England), Saturday, November 10, 1900
The full newspaper article is on the following page: