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Document number: 01963
Date: 28 Feb 1830
Postmark: 1 Mar 1830
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: FEILDING Elisabeth Theresa, née Fox Strangways
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA30-11
Last updated: 29th May 2017

[this is written on the same sheet as notes from William Thomas Horner Fox Strangways: Doc. No: 03214 - and Caroline Doc. No: 03215.]

Laycock Abbey
28th February

My Dear Henry

I am sorry that in return for your amusing accounts of the beau Monde,<1> I have nothing to give but such rustic information as that the Man who cut his throat is not a tenant of Mr Awdry,<2> but a farmer who lived near Notton.<3> Àpropos of Mr Awdry he called here one morning & mentioned that you had conducted yourself in the Chair like an experienced Man of business. he said “We all know the goodness of Mr Talbot’s heart but we did not know that he was so calculated for public life. He seemed quite au fait of county business, political œconomy &c &c

Mr Strong £300<4>

Mr Hobbs £900<5>

Mr Hopper £1500<6>

& Kit <7> who has now some experience in Builders & Building declared it was impossible you could execute that Model for less than 5 or 6 thousand!!!!! so much do Doctors differ!

Did you see (on the subject of Reform) <8> [illegible deletion] “New Men would be brought into Parliament, Weavers they might be, Graziers they might be, but still they would be Men of sense & intelligence & not your Mr Thomas Macaulay species,<9> who creep into holes God knows how, & under the H. of Commons a mere debating room for small Lawyers & upstart Philosophers.”

vide newspaper 25 Feby

Mr F. <10> was very glad you mentioned about Pullen –. <11>


[A sketch of a portion of the proposed South Front is drawn on the rear inside page, with the caption:]
Height from top of Balustrade to the ground – [illegible deletion] 37 ft. [illegible deletion] 2 inches

[Address panel:]
Henry Fox Talbot Esq
31 Sackville Street


1. High Society

2. Henry Goddard Awdry (1804–1881), solicitor, Chippenham.

3. See Doc. No: 02207.

4. Strong's identity has yet to be established. However, Awdry met Mr. Strong at Box [see Doc. No: 02006], the Wiltshire hamlet whose quarry originally provided Lacock Abbey with its stone. It is possible that Strong was there temporarily to select stone for the renovations at Lacock Abbey, but given the expansion of the area in the 19th c., perhaps Strong was resident there. The 1841 census for Box (the earliest one available) points to two possibilities. The first, James Strong (b. 1796), was a mason, but the Lacock mason, Charles Selman Banks (1805-1881) did most of the masonry at Lacock at this time. Thomas Strong (b. 1781) was a builder, and seems the more likely candidate.

5. William Hobbs; see Doc. No: 10007. This letter survives in a much degraded form, with extensive water damage and faded ink. Hobbs overwrote the central number in his price, making it appear to be £950. Perhaps his intent was more clear in Lady Elisabeth's day, or perhaps she simply accepted the reading of the lower price.

6. Thomas Hopper (1776–1856), architect & surveyor, London.

7. Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot (1803–1890), immensely wealthy landowner, mathematician & politician; WHFT’s Welsh cousin.

8. WHFT published a pamphlet, Thoughts on Moderate Reform in the House of Commons (London: James Ridgway, 1830) and two years later, was to be elected a member of the Reform Parliament.

9. Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800–1859), MP & historian.

10. Rear Admiral Charles Feilding (1780–1837), Royal Navy; WHFT’s step-father.

11. William Pullen, Lacock Abbey coachman