My dear Henry,
It has occurred to me that perhaps you could help me on a point on which I want information, & I feel sure that if you can, you will.
I am writing amongst other articles (which I wish to get into Magazines, but cannot succeed,) a longer one on old trees, with their traditions & legends, (whenever I can get them,) which makes them more interesting. I have heard of an old Thorn, very worthy of mention, between Devizes & Marlborough, at the Village of Stanton St Bernard, & as the Vicar knows nothing of it, I think it may be got at through the County History of Wilts, which no doubt you possess, but I have no county histories, so must apply to my friends. Emma Llewellyn <1> just mentioned it from Bath, but all I have yet ascertained is, that it was a Thorn called the “Annas Thorn”<2> of absolutely immemorial antiquity, having been mentioned as a boundary in Domesday Book, & which was living in 1829, but between that year and 1834, it was cut down by an ignorant mistake! & rooted up. If in the county History, there were any more particulars of its size, or history, such as why it was called the “Annas” & not the Stanton Thorn, & such like, it would be a help to me to be made acquainted with them, therefore I should be very much obliged if you would not think it too much trouble to look for me, & ascertain what is said of it, if it is named. Stanton St Bernard seems to be a very small village close to Alton Barnes, but perhaps there was formerly some ancient domain from which it took its name of the “Annas Thorn.”
I include in my notices of old Trees, all that I can find in any way remarkable, whatever may be their species, & do not confine myself only to such Oaks &c as are mentioned in Strutt or Gilpin; <3> & with their histories, Emily Mundy<4> was much interested in the part she has read. Professor Balfour <5> of the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens, has kindly given me some account of various Scotch trees, especially connected with M. Q. of Scots, & the Regent Murray, & altogether I think I could make a nice book of it; which with another MS on quite a different subject, would sell well; but I am far too poor to publish either – That is however no reason
s for neglecting to make my “Memorial trees” as perfect as I can.
Of course I have got all particulars of “Billy Wilkins” <6> from Ilchester, & numerous notices of trees from other friends, & from such books as I can refer to, but my Library is small.
I hope this will not be giving you too much trouble, but writing is almost the only amusement I have. Reading always, tires my head in my solitude.
Yr affte cousin
Louisa Charlotte Frampton
Henry Fox Talbot Esqre
1. Misspelling for Emma Thomasina Llewelyn, née Talbot (1806–1881), photographer; WHFT’s Welsh cousin.
2. Augustus John Cuthbert Hare (1834-1903), Rector of Alton Barnes, Wiltshire, claimed that an ancient thorn tree could still be found on the border of the parish of Stanton St Bernard, Wiltshire, as mentioned in Domesday (no corroboration has been found in Domesday for Wiltshire). He stated that Anna’s Thorn, Anna’s Well, etc., related to the saint whose protection the parish enjoyed. Hare, Memorials of a Quiet Life (London: Strathan, 1872), p. 285.
3. Probably Jacob George Strutt (1790–1864), author of Deliciae sylvarum; or, grand and romantic forest scenery in England and Scotland, and William Sawrey Gilpin (1762–1845) author of Practical Hints for Landscape Gardening (1832).
4. Emily Maria Georgiana, née Cavendish (1845-1929), wife of Francis Noel Mundy (1833-1903), WHFT's nephew.
5. Dr John Hutton Balfour (1808–1884), Scottish botanist.