Local Community News


elizabethhutchingsfreshwaterFor the inaugural meeting of the ‘new’ Freshwater Circle, held in the Olympus Gallery at Dimbola, Freshwater, the guest speaker was local historian, writer and publisher Elizabeth Hutchings.

Following the demise of the Farringford Tennyson Society after 30 years, the ‘new’ Freshwater Circle has been formed with a view to replacing the former group.

Elizabeth’s presentation entitled ‘May, Lady Tennyson and The Golden Heart Man’ formed the 25th Richard Hutchings’ Memorial Lecture. Having reached the grand age of 90, Elizabeth pointed out this would probably be the last time she would deliver a memorial  lecture dedicated to her late husband, who was an author, poet and publisher.

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For a time the Hutchings lived in Christchurch, New Zealand with their 3 sons and coincidentally David, the present Baron Tennyson, who has recently visited Freshwater, lives in Christchurch today.

Elizabeth recalled that in 1925 May, the third Lady Tennyson provided the funds for an ambulance to serve the Freshwater area. Princess Beatrice handed over the Riley vehicle at a ceremony at the Drill Hall, now the Memorial Hall in Freshwater. Later in the history of the May Lady Tennyson Memorial Ambulance, when the infirm Rev. Platt retired, he was taken from West Wight to Exeter on his way to a new home in Cornwall, by that very ambulance.

The talk also detailed Allan Vivian May, a Diocesan Lay reader at St. Agnes Church, Freshwater was a well known and loved character in the village, going about his business on a bicycle. He never married and as well as being a Lay reader was a talented writer. He gained some kudos from writing the poem ‘The Rose With a Golden Heart’ which won a prestigious competition, which attracted some 30,000 entries.

Allan was raised in Nottingham and when his father died when Allan was just 7-years-old, he relocated to West Wight. Allan was librarian to May, Lady Tennyson and he died in 1975.

St. Agnes Church was built in 1908 and the Foundation Stone was laid in the April by Harold Tennyson. Reputedly, the church was constructed from stone which came from the cottage where Robert Hooke was born. Recently Elizabeth felt the Foundation Stone was in need of restoration so set about raising the necessary funding from herself and friends.

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Following the replacement of the stone it was unveiled by David, Baron Tennyson on his recent visit to Freshwater.

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