For five decades the Tennyson Research Centre has been offering a unique insight into one of the most famous figures of the 19th century.

On July 4, the centre celebrated its 50th anniversary with a special public opening.

Based above Lincoln Central Library, the centre contains the library, letters, papers and possessions of Alfred Tennyson and his family and is the biggest collection on the poet in the world.

Cllr Nick Worth, Executive Member for Culture and Heritage, said: “Tennyson is perhaps the most quoted poet after Shakespeare, and his words are carved at the South Pole and the Olympic Village.”

“For 50 years, this unique collection has inspired students of not only poetry and literature, but also of history, art, and photography.”

“People come from all over the world to see, study and research items that range from Tennyson’s manuscripts to his doodles in the margins of his books.”

“We also have an autograph request from Prince Albert, Tennyson’s cloak, unique photographs and early commercial souvenirs.”

The collection ended up in Lincoln in the 1960s, after a successful exhibition in the city in 1959 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the poet’s birth.

The council then worked with the Tennyson Society to devote a room in the Usher Gallery to the poet’s life and work.

When the family collection went up for sale in 1979, the council purchased most of the material, with the help from National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the JR Halkes Trust and the Heslam Trust.

The collection can be accessed by visiting the Lincs to the Past website.

A Lincoln pet shop has introduced Freddie the racoon dog to their expanding list of exotic animals.

Freddie, now seven-weeks-old, was bought after Alyss Dickinson, owner of Lincoln Reptile and Pet Centre, and her partner were torn between a dog and a racoon.

“We didn’t want a boring pet, we wanted something different,” Alyss explained.

Freddie will be used alongside Lily the skunk in charity events and outings, if his behaviour stays the same.

“We wanted to do charity work with Phoebe the skunk but unfortunately she was too ill.

“Hopefully by using Freddie and Lily instead, we are able to share the happiness they bring to us with others.”

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

At home, Freddie spends a lot of time outside, and goes everywhere with owner Alyss.

“He is currently being harness trained to walk around and wander through the shop providing his behaviour stays tame, thats the aim,” Alyss said.

“We want to spend all of our time with Freddie (and Lily obviously) to get the best out of him.”

Freddie has proved a popular attraction to the shop and the Facebook page, with the raccoon gathering a lot of attention. He also has his own fan page.

However, Alyss is keen to stress that great care should be taken when choosing to take on an exotic pet.

“There is always a risk in social media with exotic animals,” Alyss explained.

“We don’t agree with animals just being taken out of the wild. We get exotic mammals which have been hand reared.”

Racoon dogs are not recommended as pets to people with little experience in animals.

When the cuteness fades and the animal grows, there is a real danger that both the animals and owners could be harmed due to the animal not being in the right environment.

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

In the near future, the Reptile and Pet Centre hope to continue with events and charity work with their animals.

Alyss also hopes to get an Asian Palm Civit as their next pet, or potentially another skunk from previous skunk Phoebes’ mum.

On Saturday July 12, an open day is being held to introduce Freddie along with Lily and the other animals including the meerkats and owls to visitors.

“We have people travelling from Manchester and Norfolk to see the animals!”

There is also an Exotic Pet Awareness Day on Sunday August 3 at Birmingham & Solihull Rugby Club, where Freddie and Lily will be attending to.

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