From Edmund Matyjaszek, Poetry Society Isle of Wight, Ryde:
I READ with interest Charles Jones’s letter (CP, 18-09-09) and his concern about changes at Farringford "attempting to turn it into a Victorian time-warp…to replace a living entity with a stultifying museum piece".
I don’t feel anyone who actually went to any of the events this summer, particularly those associated with the bicentenary of Tennyson’s birth in 1809, could possibly subscribe to that view.
And I do not think, in justice, these comments can be allowed to stand.
Representing the National Poetry Society on the IW, I have seen just how much the current owners have poured time, effort — and money — into making Farringford a centre of cultural and artistic activity this year.
The three-day visit by the previous Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, in July, by Patti Smith, the US rock star, by academics and performers, with readings, workshops (including a very successful schools one attended by Island pupils), the restored library exhibition — this is not turning Farringford into a museum piece but a genuine attempt, and not an unsuccessful one, to reconnect the house and hotel with its former role as a centre for the arts on the Island.
This is allied to the importance of festivals and events to the Island in both economic as well as cultural terms.
It has a very real contemporary aspect as Keith Newbery’s article in the same issue points out, speaking of "the rise and rise of the IW as a festival venue".
This also extends to the owners’ patronage and contribution of prizes to Island Voices, the poetry competition we at the Poetry Society are running in connection with its own centenary.
This has elicited hundreds of entries from the Island and the mainland, with all the junior entries from Island schools yet to come in.
Far from making Farringford a museum piece, this represents a vital recovery of a significant part of the Island’s past, enabling it to contribute to the present day at any number of levels.
The current owners should rather be applauded for rendering such a major service to Island life.
Hotel closure should not be allowed
From Dr Sarah Deacock, Yarmouth:
I was upset, but not surprised, to read that Farringford will close next month and that the owners have no definite plans to re-open the hotel (CP, 25-09-09).
Farringford is a great asset to the West Wight and there is no equivalent venue for large social events and the loss of a major tourist attraction will no doubt have a detrimental effect on many local businesses.
The golf course, which has been enjoyed by locals and hotel residents for about 35 years, will, presumably, close.
Fortunately, there may yet be a precedent for saving Farringford — the residents of Hulverstone recently argued that the Sun Inn should not be turned into a private residence when it was bought by individuals who wanted to close the business and turn it into a private house. The Sun is now once again flourishing as a popular local pub.
Perhaps Mr Beisly and Ms Fitzgerald could be persuaded to put their business on the market so that interested parties who have a real desire to see Farringford succeed would have an opportunity to run the business, thus ensuring that the hotel, grounds and golf course would be available for locals and visitors alike to use and enjoy.
From S. Canterbury, Freshwater:
Loss to the Island: It would be a such a loss not only to West Wight but to the whole Island if the Farringford closes as a hotel.
My husband and I stayed at the Farringford every year from the late 70s until 1993, when we moved to Freshwater. It was owned then by Sir Fred Pontin and run to perfection by Anne and Italo Cerise.
There was always a very friendly atmosphere and we were greeted almost like family by all the staff who were there each year.
The food was excellent and the restaurant visited by locals as well as holiday makers. It was nearly always full to capacity and both Christmas and New Year were something special.
It only closed for a few weeks in January each year for refurbishment, so closing for at least six months seems excessive and there will surely be even more revenue loss.
The garden suites have been beautifully renovated but it will be sad not to be able to use the hotel facilities while staying in them.
Our family have always enjoyed staying at the Farringford and find it hard to believe it is closing.
We also hope the golf course will remain open as this is used and enjoyed by so many people.