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Document number: 04077
Date: 20 May 1840
Postmark: 21 May 1840
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: TALBOT Mary Thereza
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA40-43
Last updated: 28th January 2012

Lanelay <1>
May 20th.

Thank you my dear Henry for the likeness of your breakfast table <2> it seems a very comfortable one & only wants you all to be sitting at your places, but I suppose the impossibility of remaining quite as quiet as a tea pot for a sufficiently long time prevents your taking likenesses of your self & friends Charlotte and Mr Traherne <3> are here, in about 3 weeks they migrate to Llanwrtyd<4> & wish they could persuade you to go there too, the County is so wild & the place altogether so completely different from any in South Wales, you would certainly be repaid for the trouble of getting there; for I must confess there are no railroads to transport you over some miles of bad road after you quit the regular Turnpike road, the nearest town is 12 miles from Llanwrtyd and there are many discomforts for which no remedies have hitherto been found: but still Charlotte says the place agrees so well with every body that they are ready to put up with any thing & contented with what they can get! Builth or Brecon<5> would be your nearest mark to steer for I should think but C. is gone to bed and I am not sure, I will make her write you word if I am mistaken, I am sure it would do you worlds of good & I daresay the waters would agree with you too. I think our journey to Town totters and as the Roses blow it gradually loses ground I cant believe, unless there was an absolute necessity, that Mamma <6> could go in the Summer, but I dare not say such a thing!

You must find Lacock very pleasant after the heat & noise of London tho now the fine weather is gone and we are glad to recommence fires in the Drawing room.

I have a number of seeds from Russia come up many resemble weeds but I intend to have a great deal of patience and to let them flower before I [text missing]<7> them over the hedge. I hope one is the old fashioned Browaliad of which we are very fond. The had no names but were carefully stamped with numbers, 2315 one is!! Pray give my kind love to my Cousins great & small I wish they would come here again.

I am your affate Cos

Mamma is pretty well.

We are going to make an expedition to the top of the great Garth such a view! How you would enjoy it. The other day we took Susan & Fanny <8> to Caerphilly that is post house distance but not too much for a fine day & we also went to Newbridge<9> to show them Pont y pridd & the Chain cable [ma]<10> factory with which they were very much pleased. George went otter hunting so we sent him to see these sights by himself next day

H. Fox Talbot Esqre
Lacock Abbey



1. Llanely, or Lanely, Glamorganshire: home of Lady Mary Cole and Mary Thereza Talbot.

2. For this image see A Breakfast Table, Set with Candlesticks, Schaaf 2358, reproduced in Larry J. Schaaf, The Photographic Art of William Henry Fox Talbot (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), p. 76.

3. Charlotte Louisa 'Charry' Traherne, ne Talbot (18001880), WHFTs cousin; and Rev John Montgomerie Traherne (17881860), JP & author.

4. Lanwrtyd is in mid Wales and commonly called Llanwrtyd Wells.

5. Builth Wells, and Brecon, a long-established market town, both in mid Wales.

6. Lady Mary Lucy Cole, ne Strangways, first m. Talbot (17761855), WHFTs aunt.

7. Text torn away under seal.

8. Susan and Fanny Fox Strangways, daughters of the Hon Charles Redlynch Fox-Strangways (d. 1836).

9. Newbridge (about 6 miles from Lanelay) is the original name for Pontypridd. It was named when a new bridge was build there when Isambard Kingdom Brunel was fast expanding the rail network to Wales. The chain cable factory was probably the Brown Lennox works situated between Pontypridd and Cardiff near present day Tongwynlais. Robert Howlett's 1857 photograph of Brunel in front of the chains for the Great Eastern was possibly posed at this works - see Mark Haworth-Booth, The Golden Age of British Photography, 1839-1860 (New York: Aperture, 1984), plate 61.

10. Text torn away under seal.