My dear Papa,
I have a far brighter account to give you now, than Tilly <1> could the other day, for since she wrote we have had uninterrupted fine weather; so hot indeed yesterday, that it was almost unbareable [sic] walking about. The worst is the continual glare out of the sitting room windows, for they look south, and so have all the sun from morning till night. But the air is delightful near the sea, especially in the morning, and we very much enjoy walking on the broad smooth sands, especially as it is so very long since we had seen any. Tally has been bathing nearly every day, and we have also had one plunge and mean to get another tomorrow, the water is so delightfully warm and calm. Yesterday we were out nearly all day: seeing the town, which just now is so chuck full of people from excursion trains etc – it is quite extraordinary – All the lodgings are overflowing. – We were attracted by the sight of a magnificent scarlet and green parrot, hanging outside the window of a mean looking shop house; and hearing us admire it, the owner, a dyer by trade, unhooked the cage and brought it up for us to see – he was evidently very proud of it, and said it was the King parrot, a rare bird from the deserts of Arabia, the only live specimen of its kind in England, and sole survivor of twelve nestlings brought over together.
Then we went down to the shore,
and where long rows of chairs are hired out for a penny and sat down, so close to the retreating waters, that when a bigger wave than usual came up and washed over our feet, we were irresistibly reminded of King Canute. It is very pleasant there – you might sit for hours if you had nothing to do, listening to the waves, and not even going in for your dinner, for little boys come round with baskets offering you soda water, buns, and all sorts of things – Very convenient for excursionists who come to pass the day.
After dinner Mama <2> took us to Margate to see Aunt Marian. <3> It is a most convenient quiet little railway, running on a single line, it takes only ten minutes and the trains go every half hour. – The tide was out at Margate and the shore looked muddy and wet – not near such good sands as here.
Whilst we were doing all this Tally was passing the day at Canterbury, from eleven in the morning to half past seven in the evening – he saw every thing that was to be seen about the cathedral and antiquities, accompanied by one of Mr Gilder’s <4> sons, who is a clergyman residing at Canterbury, and kindly offered to be his guide, as he is himself very fond of antiquities.
Tally<5> seems to have enjoyed his day very much, and saw everything much better than if he had gone there last Wednesday en passant.
Today it is so very hot that only Mama and Tilly have ventured to church, and the rest of us have not yet been out, but this evening it will be very pleasant.
bye glad Papa I am very glad that the pretty heath arrived safe, and I hope it will flourish at Lacock.
Tally is very anxious to get home to see the iron diggings. – One of us will probably write to you again before we return, in the meantime good bye, dear Papa
Your affectionate daughter
1. Matilda Caroline Gilchrist-Clark, ‘Tilly’, née Talbot (1839–1927), WHFT’s 3rd daughter.
2. Constance Talbot, née Mundy (1811–1880), WHFT’s wife.
3. Her maternal aunt, Marian Gilder, née Mundy (1806 – 14 October 1860); m. 6 August 1844 William Troward Gilder (d. 1871), Army Surgeon (ret).
4. Rev Edward Gilder, St Dunstan's, Canterbury.
5. Charles Henry Talbot, 'Tally" (2 Feb 1842 - 26 Dec 1916), antiquary & WHFT's only son.