When I was away in Lincolnshire on family matters for a month I thought it might be an idea to have a look into the history of the local boy who made good. And I mean good. In the radio show on Preston fm I played a recording of him as he read ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ recorded in the 1890s. If you get the chance have a listen to the podcast. It’s fascinating. The following notes are from the script for the programme.
Which is the give away to the fact it is Alfred, Lord Tennyson I was looking into. Now I bet when I wrote Alfred Tennyson the image that sprang to mind was of a man in his 40s or 50s with a massive beard, lined face, cloak and a wide brimmed hat – someone at the very pinnacle of Victorian Society. And when that recording was made he was.
But that eminent man was once a boy and he was a boy in a very remote part of Lincolnshire. In fact the village of Somersby is very remote even now. So, let’s get rid of the hat and beard and view a face that was, when he was in his 20s, according to the sketches that exist a very handsome and dashing sort of face. He was also immensely strong. One of the local sports was throwing a crowbar and he could beat all comers. His party piece, when there was a gathering on the Rectory lawn, was to pick up a Shetland pony and carry it round.
And on the subject of animals it should be mentioned that he cared passionately about them and delighted in springing the traps that gamekeepers had set. He was so good at animal and bird calls that an owl became his constant companion.
But it wasn’t all nature and sport. He was often found tramping the lanes and reading in the sort of snow that was around when I was there. On one occasion he was so immersed in his book that he failed to hear the Louth coach coming up behind him. He was eventually roused from his reverie by a shout from the coachman and looking up saw a horse’s muzzle protruding over his shoulder as if it too was immersed in the book.
At this point I went out and recorded some observations in Somersby itself. If you get the chance to listen I hope you enjoy the show.