Ruskin Lodge, Freshwater Bay, Isle of wight, Bed and Breakfast 
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History of Ruskin Lodge

Isle of Wight B&B




The house was built and owned by a Dr Dabbs who was the family doctor for the Tennyson family. He was present during Alfred Lord Tennyson's final days and hours. His wife, Nina Laura Peets, may have had connections with the Reverend Dodgson ( Lewis Carol) . It is said he dedicated a book to

her when she was a child.

Dr. Dabbs   

More information on Dr. Dabbs

Research ongoing and any information welcome.

Ruskin Lodge West Wight Bed and Breakfast Isle of Wight  West Isle of Wight Bed and Breakfast

Ruskin Lodge


History of the Victorian Houses and Historic value of Freshwater Bay.


Freshwater Bay and the surrounding area was the centre of a literary, artistic and cultural circle where visitors were eminent Victorians and many were some of the most influential men of the 19th Century. The beauty and unspoiltness of the Bay is attractive today as it was in Victorian times. It still has its many famous influential visitors each year in search of inspiration. Artists paint the area, poet lovers walk in their heroes famous footsteps, photographers capture the beauty, and nature lovers scan the shore and marshes.


Hazelhurst is one of a row of beautiful Victorian houses, that are historically connected and within the Beautiful Bay area that should have been protected long ago – “The Tennyson Mile.”


Hazelhurst, Blenheim House, Sarratt House, Milton Lodge, Cambridge Villa, Havelock and Palmerston House. –


These houses were commissioned by Queen Victoria for Sea Captains. They were built (1871-1881) on Farringford land previously owned by Leonard the last Lord Holmes and given by him to his younger daughter Catherine, wife of Edward Rushworth.  It was passed to Captain RUSHWORTH (eldest son of Edward and the Honourable Catherine Rushworth, Grandson of Captain Rushworth and the nephew of the great Admiral Holmes, Commander in Chief at Jamaica.) Blenheim House was built for Captain Rushworth. After Blenheim and the row of houses were built they were then leased to John Squire (The Retreat) Mayor of Yarmouth for the use of sea captains. Captain Rushworth died soon after in 1877. The leases and houses were then sold to Elizabeth Compagne. The houses were still used as luxury villas and apartments/lodgings for Sea Captains and high ranking officers but also for the “Victorian Circle” that came to stay in the Bay.


These are some of the other houses in the Tennyson Mile and the famous people who stayed/ owned them:


1.             Hazelhurst- Ella Coltman (1888) stayed here and held séances with Tennyson.

Hazelhurst was for a long time a hotel which provided accommodation for the famous Victorian circle of guests visiting Dimbola and the Farringford. (See below)


2.             Lucerne(part of Palmerston and one of the Victorian Row)DH Lawrence 1909


3.             The Porch/ Louisa Villa (houses that used to stand  behind Hazelhurst) - Lady Ritchie writer Annie Thackeray who was eldest daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray (novelist and essayist.) lived here. In 1923 her friend Virginia Woolf stayed and wrote the play “Freshwater” here. Professor Jowett lived here (translated Plato)


4.             Ancona (Southview and Ancona - The Square, behind Hazelhurst)Sir Vivian Fuchs born here


5.             Redoubt House (Terrace Lane opp Hazelhurst) Charles Darwin (Origin of Species) stayed here. Jenny Lind (“Swedish Nightingale” prima Donna)


6.             Pannells (Terrace Lane opp Hazelhurst) . Granville Bradley (Dean of Westminster), Leslie Stephen (the critic), Fredrick Tennyson. Lady Richie (Writer)


7.             Terrace House (Terrace Lane opp Hazelhurst) – William Makepeace Thackeray, Jowett of Oxford (Philosopher), Charles Darwin. Owned by Horatio Tennyson.


8.             Dimbola Lodge (Sunnyside & Cameron House (opp Hazelhurst) Julia Margaret Cameron 1859-1875 -the international photographer, moved to the Island in 1859. She bought two cottages, which she converted into one calling it Dimbola


These were her Freshwater Circle of friends who lived/stayed in the Freshwater Bay area:

·               Helen ALLINGHAM. Illustrator, wife of William

·               William ALLINGHAM. Poet and Diarist

·               Granville BRADLEY. Dean of Westminster, amateur geologist

·               Robert BROWNING. Poet

·               Thomas CARLYLE.  Writer and Philosopher

·               Lewis CARROLL.  Writer, Photographic Pioneer and Oxford don

·               Charles DARWIN.  Biologist, resident in Terrace House for 2 months

·               Aubrey DE VERE.  Poet

·               George DU MAURIER. Painter

·               Edward FITZGERALD. Writer

·               GARIBALDI. Italian Patriot

·               Sir John HERSCHEL.  Astronomer

·               Oliver Wendell HOLMES. Poet and Essayist

·               Holman HUNT.  Pre-Raphaelite Painter

·               Benjamin JOWETT. Philosopher, resident of Terrace Lane

·               Charles KINGSLEY. Novelist

·               Sir James KNOWLES. Architect, editor of the 'Contemporary Review'

·               Edward LEAR. Nonsense poet and watercolourist

·               Alice LIDDELL.  Subject of 'Alice in Wonderland'

·               Henry LIDDELL. Alice's father, Dean of Christchurch, Oxford

·               Jennie LIND. Singer, the 'Swedish Nightingale'

·               Henry LONGFELLOW.  American poet

·               F D MAURICE. Theologian

·               Sir John MILLAIS Painter

·               Francis PALGRAVE. Poet and anthologist of 'The Golden Treasury'

·               Sir Hubert PARRY. Musician

·               Thoby PRINSEP.  Colonial Administrator.

·               James SPEDDING.  Biographer

·               Sir Leslie STEPHEN. Editor of Dictionary of National Biography

·               Sir Arthur SULLIVAN. Musician and Composer

·               Bayard TAYLOR. Writer

·               Sir Henry TAYLOR.  Poet and playwright.

·               Archbishop TEMPLE. Theologian

·               Alfred Lord TENNYSON.  Poet Laureate, resident at Farringford House

·               Ellen TERRY.  Actress, briefly married to G F Watts at The Briary

·               Anne THACKERAY. Daughter of William, novelist and essayist.

·               W G WARD. Theologian, resident at Weston Manor

·               G F WATTS.  Painter of portraits and allegories, resident at The Briary

·               Virginia Woolf (novelist) lived at the Porch.

·               Margaret WOODS. Poet

Hazelhurst is in the middle of the Tennyson Mile these are the other properties within the “Mile”

9.                                       St Agnes Church- The stones from Hooke Hill Farm (Robert Hooke’s home) were used to build the church. The date stone 1622 was incorporated into the vestry wall, thus rather misleading those who may think the church belonged to the 17th century.


10.                      Myrtle Cottage -William Allingham (An Anglo-Irish poet and man of letters and books "The Music Master''. His friends were Pre-Raphaelites Hughes, Millais, and Rossetti, the Brownings, Tennyson, and Morris as well as other eminent Victorians. Mary Allingham (Artist).


11.                      Farringford – Alfred Lord Tennyson first rented a house (Farringford) overlooking Freshwater Bay in 1853 and later bought it in 1858. Many regions of the Island still bear his name. Lord Tennyson enjoyed the beauty of the Island, however retreated when the tourist crowds became too oppressive. It is believed that Tennyson wrote 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' on the Island and 'Crossing the Bar' on his journey between his home and the mainland.  Some guests include HHR Prince Consort, HRH Princess Beatrice, HRH Prince Andrew, William Allingham (Poet), Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (American poet) George Campbell (Statesman and Scientist), James Bryce (Historian and Statesman), Arthur Clough (Poet), Richard Doyle (Punch artist), Emma Queen of the Sandwich Isles (Don Kennett’s Grandfather made her throne and has evidence of being given the job of building the study etc,) Thomas Woolner (sculptor and poet), Richard Straus (Composer), Charles Kingsley (Poet and novelist), Edward Lear, Millais (artist) Garibaldi (Italian Patriot) planted an oak that was cut down by later owners.


12.                      Roseberry House – James Henry Rogers (Naturalist) and Henry St John Rogers


13.                      Glenbrook St Francis (Now newly built Tennyson View) was religious Library – May Lady Tennyson with Hester Thackeray Fuller. Haile Gebrselassie (considered by many to be one of the best distance runners of all time, having broken 24 world records and won numerous Olympic and World Championship titles)


14.                      Albion Hotel (Albin)J M W Turner, Hassell (Both famous artists that painted scenes of the Bay)


15.                      The Cabin - George Moreland (The Artist) Stayed here. He painted several local scenes. (Hassell’s life; Collin’s Memoirs and Adams 1884)


16.                      Marine Villa Christopher Isherwood (A major Anglo-American novelist and a pioneer in the gay liberation movement) 1925. W.H. Auden (an Anglo-American poet). These two writers have a huge American following and bring in many American visitors into the Bay.


17.                      Beach House Lord Bryce


18.                      Fort Redoubt - Lord Palmerston


19.                      Plumbly’s Hotel (Freshwater Bay House) – William Makepeace Thackeray.

20.                      Saunders Hotel (was Temperance Hotel now Sandpipers Hotel) Clement Atley 1930 (foreign Minister for Winston Churchill), Now a hotel that attracts world famous acts performing at the Isle of Wight Music Festival. The Who, Level 42, Donovan etc,.


21.                      The Briary –George Fredrick Watts (Victorian Artist and sculptor) built the Briary for his friends Mr Thoby Prinsep (Colonial Administrator). Philip Webb was the architect. Val Prinsep (Well known Painter) Ellen TERRY (Actress, briefly married to G F Watts) Guests included Charles Dickens, Browning, Burne-Jones, Rossetti. Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens, D’Orsay, Fitzgerald. William Morris

22.                      Whitecliff House - 1864(November) Lewis Carroll based Alice in Wonderland on Alice Liddell. He presented Alice Liddell with manuscript copy of Alice’s Adventures under Ground here. Henry Liddell, Dean of Christchurch, Oxford


23.                      The Court, Hawkridge Renamed Freshwater Court – August 1864 Lewis Carroll stayed here and took a picture called “Little Red Riding Hood” of Agnes Grace Weld (Author of Glimpses of Tennyson)


And these are not within the Tennyson mile but should be included in the History of “Freshwater Isle”


24.                      St Saviours Church - Alfred Noyes 1929-1959 - the poet buried here.


25.                      Weston Manor W G Ward (Theologian)

26.                      The Royal Needles Hotel (burnt down in 1902)King and Queen , Prince Albert (Prince Albert 1846-1861 - Consort to Queen Victoria)

27.                      Alum Bay Gugielo Marconi, he moved to the Island in 1897 to promote his work on wireless telegraphy, establishing the first wireless station in the world at Alum Bay. Lord Palmerston (served as the British Prime Minister for two periods, 1855-58 and 1859-65) The space rockets called 'Black Night' and 'Black Arrow’, Benjamin Disraeli (1804 - 1881- Prime Minister)


28.                      All Saints Church Tennyson and Princep graves


29.                      Hooke's Cottage or Hooke Hill farm. This site is now occupied by a modern house called "Heatherstone House". Robert Hooke - He was the son of John Hooke, the curate of All Saints, Freshwater. He was born there in 1635 (Inventor of watch springs and other devices, microscopist, physicist, surveyor, astronomer, biologist, artist… Hooke’s Law)


30.                      Afton House Captain Speedy married Mary Cotton they brought Prince Alamayo to live with them. The Princes father (King Tewodos of Abyssinia) had apparently committed suicide after treachery against the British Empire.


31.                      Afton Lodge - Lady Tennyson’s Hospital. 


32.                      Brook House/ Mottison _ J B Priestley (famous author and playwright), Charles Seeley (Coal owner, 'Father' of House of Commons in the 1880's), Jack Seeley 1868-1947 - Life boatman, soldier in South Africa and First World War (commanding Canadian Cavalry). Statesman (War Minister 1912-1914). Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire and Isle of Wight 1918-1947. Sir John Nicholson 1917-1993 Lord Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight 1979-1986. Garibaldi planted an oak tree here in 1864.





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