Janry 5th 1822
I have the pleasure to acknowledge the receipt of your Letter of the 14th December. I had previously heard of you by Mr King, <2> to whom I wrote with a message respecting the Estates, which I hope, ere this, you have recd
The Account of Messrs Hammerslys <3> up to Novr last, appears to be quite correct I have since that time, remitted £100 and hope to pay a further Sum in the course of a few Weeks The difficulties of the Farmers are at present so great, that I am glad to get the Rents in by Instalments & I hope that it is not attended with inconvenience to you, to receive it in this manner, as it is at present almost unavoidable I have had several applications for some abatement in the Rents, but as you mention your intention of returning to England in the Spring, I need not trouble you now with more than one Case, where I have had a notice to quit at Ladyday next This is from the Farm at Nethermore <4>, the least considerable of the Estates, it is very poor Land & in an inconvenient situation The late Tenant, Nicholas Crocker, was a respectable hard working Farmer but owing to the wetness of the Season last year nearly the whole of his Corn was so much injured that he had nothing to carry to market in time to raise the Money for his Michaelmas Rent & the Circumstance affected his mind so much that I fear, it hastened his death His Widow begs for a little time to enable her to get the Stock into Money without a forced Sale, which in the present time would be most ruinous to her & under the peculiar circumstances of the case I have promised to commend it for your favorable consideration She is anxious to continue in the Farm with her Son, who is nearly of Age & I hope we shall be able to agree upon Terms She considers the Estate too dear I do not think we shall be obliged to reduce the Rent much, as the last taking was not in a very high time & I hope that a careful examination of the old Survey, with reference to present prices, will enable me to let it without the expence of another valuation I hope I can already perceive the effects of our last Treaty with Mr Grosett <5> about Repairs The Bills at the Michaelmas Audit were less than I had paid for some years before & I do all in my power to keep down the Bills, without neglecting essential Repairs, which would be more expensive in the end When I have the pleasure of seeing you next, I hope to point out many things in the Estates whereby the Property might be improved There are several detatched [sic] Cottages which might be sold, being quite out of the reach of any nuisance to the Abbey & thereby the expense of Repairs lessened I have endeavourd to do the alterations at New Farm without your feeling any diminution of Income, There being some Coppice Wood which was fit to cut & a few Trees upon the same spot & the Man who undertook the the Contract for these Repairs, has taken the above in exchange Nothing has yet been done about the School & there appears to be a spot so much more eligible for erecting it on, than the one we before thought of, that I now intend deferring the removal of the Tenants, that you may have an opportunity of deciding after you have seen both places
As you do not mention the subject, I presume you will not wish me to send a detailed Statement of the last years Account to you abroad I therefore intend to get it ready for your inspection whenever you may find it convenient to see me after your return to England & should that not be till after the Lady day Audit, <6> about Repairs The Bills at the Michaelmas Audit were less than I had paid for I propose to balance the last years Account previously, in order to keep each year separate as during the Minority
I am dear Sir yr Obliged & Obedt Sert,
W. H. Awdry
W. H. F. Talbot Esq
1. Chippenham, Wiltshire: largest town near Lacock, 3 miles N.
2. Of William Read King & Son, solicitors, London.
3. Hammersley & Company, bankers, London.
4. Nethermore Farm and Wood, Lacock, Wiltshire.
5. John Rock Grosett (1783-1866), MP; Jamaican Parliament; occupant of Lacock Abbey until summer 1827.
6. Lady Day is one of the traditional English quarter days, the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, on 25 March.