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Document number: 8135
Date: Wed 27 Jun 1860
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: TALBOT Constance, née Mundy
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA60-27
Last updated: 28th February 2018

Lacock Abbey
Wednesday June 27

My dear Henry

We have received many entertaining letters from you – I think as many as seven in all – to me, to Ela & to Rosd – That of today to Ela told us of your arrival at Calais after an excellent passage – I think you were indeed lucky in this; considering how particularly unsettled the weather continues to be – Today we have much rain; very dark heavy clouds and a great deal of wind – How near you were having a serious accident on board that odious little Steamer, poor Henry! I should almost fear the fall must have shaken you. although you speak of it so lightly. – I received the £5 and will appropriate it as you desire – Pilkins had a successful journey to Exeter & returned yesterday – the packages of plants will follow. He wishes me to tell you that he got all the plants you named – also a Bignonia for the Conservatory – and several Ferns for the Rock work – He received compliments from Mr on his collection of the Cantua of the Scarlet Tachsonia, in neither of which they can produce such results – I think he said the Tachsonia never flowers at all with them. I have heard from Charles today – from Mirehouse – The driving tour didn’t answer partly owing to the weather & partly from the pony falling lame, & being obliged to be sent home to Whorlton from Ripon – Charles himself had been less well; from the chilling weather. and the kind of travelling being too rough & shaking for him. So they rested a whole day at Ripon & then proceeded by railway & Coach to Cumberland, arriving at Mirehouse on Tuesday, after sleeping Monday at Grasemere, Brown’s hotel. It seems so odd for Charles to be in Cumberland without us – He had told Mr Headlaw that he thought he wanted to remain quietly somewhere for a time – so they went at once to the Speddings – and he writes him we are, fixed" – I think this is the best plan they could have adopted – and Charles says that he felt better again directly – We shall try to get to Oakfield, for his sake as well as our own, as soon as possible: which I think will be Friday week July 6th and I have written to say so. We have sent forward 3 heavy trunks with him, by luggage train. I am doing various useful things in the house to advance my own preparations, while other business is finishing in the work room Today Goodwin & I found an excellent dry plan for the Great Exhibition Books– <1> in a closet up the odd little ladder-stair by the housekeeper’s room door. So after opening the boxes & airing the books, we closed them again with a title page in the 1st vol of each copy – So you will find them all right, whenever you want to present them – And the closet can be opened by Lucy Pulling at any time– <2> There are 5 copies – Did you give Caroline my scolding messages? she has not written amy the more for it – I am very glad you saw her – and she told you all about the Review which was amusing – Thanks for the darkened opera glass which is to come & for the astronomical diagrams – Rosd will not forget to give one to Charles.

Caroline Kerrison has engaged our housemaid Ellen – The other lady thought her scarcely experienced enough – You can write to Charles at Mirehouse if you think proper: for he is soon to be there or in the neighbourhood

We have had shocking dark weather today – quite unnatural – Ela bids me thank you for both your letters – and so does Rosamond – Love from all of us – and especially from your affectionate



1. Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, 1851: Reports by the Juries. Four volumes, illustrated by original photographic prints from negatives by Hugh Owen and Claude Marie Ferrier. In the copies given to WHFT, a dedicatory sheet was inserted (most likely printed up by him): 'This Work, on the Results of the Great Exhibition of 1851, Illustrated with Photographic Plates, being One of Fifteen Copies Given by the Royal Commissioners to H.F. Talbot, Esq. of Lacock Abbey, as The Inventor of this Branch of the Photographic Art, was by him presented to _____'. This publication caused WHFT considerable consternation at the time, for he felt that the Commissioners had stealthily and unfairly taken the job of printing the plates away from Nicolaas Henneman. For a summary of this complex situation, see Nancy B Keeler, 'Illustrating the "Reports by the Juries" of the Great Exhibition of 1851; Talbot, Henneman, and Their Failed Commission,' History of Photography, v. 6 no. 3, July 1982, pp. 257-272. .

2. Lucy Pulling presents a bit of a mystery. There were several Pulling families in Lacock and the surrounding area but the only Lucy recorded was an eight year old in nearby Corsham. It is possible that a relative of one of the families worked for a period at Lacock Abbey but was not caught in any census. Possibly Constance made an error. Louisa Pullen was a servant and cook at the Abbey during the time of this letter.