May 25 – 1874
My dear Henry,
You are very kind & goodnatured to have so speedily procured the size of your old Oak. I will add your story of Owen Glendower, who seems to have been partial to hollow trees, & of whom I have two already.<1> I hope you will not think me too tiresome in sending a few pages, here & there, of my rough copy, to show you my plan & intention respecting the trees (including all I can of historic interest, tradition, & size;) as I should be so very glad to obtain the opinion of a person of your mental calibre, & experience, as to whether you agree with Emily Mundy<2> & myself, that they would prove of general interest. There is certainly scarcely a chance of my being ever able to afford to publish my MS, as I do not suppose anyone will ever leave me any money, but it makes a great difference in the care & pleasure with which I write, if done with a view to such a possibility. I believe ¾ of my trees no longer exist; but I should lose those of greatest historic interest did I not include all worthy of notice, & many seem to have disappeared in 1829, & 1836. The latter was, I know, the year of a dreadful storm, which blew down M. Q. of Scots Thorn at Duddingstone near Edinburgh, respecting which there was a most curious tradition of her planting it with the Regent Murray; & Professor Balfour says that the Regents Thorn in his garden in the Canongate (now called Moray House) was blown down the same year.<3> I would not miss the Royal Oak nor Glastonbury Thorn, although neither of the original trees exist, & even a very old descendant of the latter, which Gilpin saw in 1801, & I saw in 1835, & both believed to be the ancient one, has now been gone [15?] years.<4>
Some of the Elms are wonderful. One at Northover House, near Ilchester, was a real curiosity, branching out into 7 large limbs at 12 feet from the ground, & upon these was constructed a room which held 20 persons, where Mr Chichester used to hold his justice meetings. How undignified! to be dealing out justice up in a tree. This was blown down in 1833.<5> There is, or was, also, one in the passage leading to Spring Gardens, planted by the D. of Gloucester, brother to Charles 1st<6> – As the King went from St James’s to execution, he pointed it out, & mentioned the circumstance. Three very curious Mulberry trees I have mentioned – one of which your Caroline<7> told me at Sion House; another described by C. Traherne at Christ’s College, Cambridge, under which Milton used to sit, & the gardener enquired of them why the Americans visited the tree so much, & one man knelt before it. They said it was probably because Milton was a Republican.<8> The third still exists in the garden of the Treasurer’s house at Christ’s Hospital, & is said to have grown from a slip taken from one which grew over the graves of the two murdered Princes in the Tower. Last year it was in full bloom & had fine fruit.<9>
I never heard of the Carclew Oak, or I would mention its size, though it has no history.<10> I have 71 Oaks. Three, remarkable only for size, are the Three Shire Oak, which drips over 777 square yards, & shades a part of 3 counties, York, Derby, & Nottingham; the Spread Oak in Worksop Park, which could shelter 1,000 horse, & the Newnham Courtenay, which sheltered 2,420 men.<11> The “Robur Brittaneum” at Rycote Park, near Thame, is also a monster.<12> I have got the account & the engraving of poor Sir Charles’s “Pinus Lemoniensis”,<13> & some wonderful Silver Firs in different Parks, with all the curious trees I can find, to enormous hollies, & gigantic Ivy, with every Photograph, or engraving that I can collect, which I value very much. So you see that all are fish that come to my net. The Welbeck Oaks are remarkable.<14>
I have just completed my clean copy of the Oaks, leaving a space for further information should it come, & am proceeding to other trees. I see that E. Lllewellyn<15> when mentioning the Annas Thorn, takes it from “Memorials of a Quiet Life”, Vol. 1 p. 285.<16> I do not know the Book, but conclude it gave no further account, as she tells me to enquire, which I have done unsuccessfully. It says “standing in the exact Spot” as mentioned in Domesday book, as if it was likely to move about! But it seems that was wrong. I have a curious print of the Tortworth Chestnut, as it really is now – such a ruin!<17> & endless Q. Elizth & Anne Boleyn trees, & the Ampthill Oak.<18> How curious that the gates of Holland House opening towards Earl’s Court, should be part of the old Grille of the Bastille.<19>
I have been writing several articles for Magazines, chiefly of a historical nature, which my two critics C. Traherne, & E. Mundy, like, but I cannot get admittance anywhere. They only want tales & novels, or now & then an Essay, & really the essay on Talleyrand in “Cornhill” was old & worn out in subjects, & shamefully incorrect & ignorant<20> – Several others were on worn out subjects. Amongst mine are “Royal Residences in Germany”, the “Coronation of F. J. Empr of Austria<21> as K. of Hungary; (very curious –) an Hungarian funeral” “Curious carved Work”, 2 or 3 translations of French tales not published excepting in Feuilletons;<22> & what I think is curious, & ought to please, “Remarkable Superstitions.” Not ghosts & 2nd sights, but such as linger amongst the peasantry, & are mostly curiously derived from religious sources. I have seen articles admitted on “folk lore” – quite another branch of the subject, being merely customs. Mine are beliefs, but I do not know where to offer them, nor who would take them. I venture to add a chance page or two from my rough copy of that also, to know if you think there is any Magazine whom that would please. I was recommended to the “People’s Magazine”, which however has come to an end.
I have only been received in one Magazine, & that a youthful one, & that I gave up as the pay was bad, & I could not be scrimped in ideas or length. Those articles pleased very much – “Curious flowers & trees” which told even E. Llewellyn something – “Remarkable Clocks”, which interested much, especially an unique account of the Strasbourg Clock, which I got from a private & unknown old source – &
some two affecting & unknown historical imprisonments, &c. These were in “Aunt Judy’s Magazine”.<23>
And now I hope I have not tired out your patience; & shall not tire it still more by my specimen
s pages, of course better written out, & often corrected in expression. It is a great pleasure in my entire solitude, (I have not left my room for 11 years, owing to a spine complaint, & other illnesses,) to have received some new ideas. C. Traherne & Emily Mundy are the only two who interest themselves about my writings. I suffice to myself, am never dull, & amuse myself wonderfully in writing & reading, but it is refreshing to receive help from you. My grand MS, which E.M. says is delightful, is lying in abeyance, as I cannot publish. It is “Anecdotes”, not a history, “of the Franco-German War,” & is interesting & curious beyond belief<24> – just what have never been published. C. Traherne equally enjoys it.
Louisa Charlotte Frampton.
1. Owen Glendower (ca. 1354-ca. 1416), Welsh prince who rebelled against the English; he is said to have watched the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403 from a hollow oak by the River Severn, but this is not the only hollow tree he is associated with.
2. Emily Maria Georgiana, née Cavendish (1845-1929), wife of Francis Noel Mundy (1833-1903), WHFT's nephew.
3. Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587), whose favourite tree. Duddingstone, formerly a village, now part of Edinburgh. Regent Moray was James Stewart, 1st Earl of Murray 1531-1570. Dr John Hutton Balfour (1808–1884), Scottish botanist.
4. Royal Oak: after the Battle of Worcester in 1651, King Charles II hid in an oak tree in Boscobel Wood, Stafforshire. The Glastonbury Thorn, a common hawthorn flowering twice a year at Glastonbury Abbey, Somerset, was said to originate with Joseph of Arimathea (tragically, this tree was heavily vandalised in December 2010). Rev William Gilpin (1724-1804), clergyman and schoolmaster. As an artist, he helped to establish the idea of the picturesque.
5. Northover, a village near Ilchester, Somerset. The Chichester family were Lords of the Manor for a large part of the 18th and 19th centuries there.
6. She is mistaken here - Henry, Duke of Gloucester (1640–1660), was the 3rd son, not the brother, of Charles I (1600–1649), King of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1625–1649). Spring Gardens was close to Whitehall, London. On his way to the scaffold from St James’s Palace, Charles I is said to have pointed out a tree near Spring Gardens planted by his elder brother, Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales (1594-1612).
7. Lady Caroline Augusta Edgcumbe, née Feilding (1808-1881); WHFT's half-sister; Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Victoria, 1840–1854 & 1863–1865. Syon House was the London home of the Dukes of Northumberland; mulberry trees are said to have been introduced there in the mid-16th c.
8. Charlotte Louisa 'Charry' Traherne, née Talbot (1800–1880), WHFT’s cousin. John Milton (1608–1674), poet. Christ’s College, Cambridge still boasts Milton’s mulberry tree.
9. Christ’s Hospital, London, founded as a school for poor children in the 16th c. The Princes in The Tower: Edward V of England (1470-1483?) and Richard, Duke of York (1473-1483?) are said to have been murdered in the Tower of London, possibly by Richard III.
10. Carclew, Cornwall, home of Sir Charles Lemon (1784-13 Feb 1868), politician & scientist and WHFT's uncle. WHFT's photograph, 'Oak Tree, Carclew Park, Cornwall' (Schaaf 1355), was probably taken in August 1841. It is illustrated in Larry J Schaaf, The Photographic Art of William Henry Fox Talbot (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), pl. 44.
11. The Three Shire Oak, at Worksop, North Nottinghamshire, was said to have covered 767 square yards by 1846 (The Farmer's Cabinet, v. 11 no. 2, 15 September 1846, p. 61); The Spread Oak, at nearby Worksop Park, was said to be three times the size of the roof of Westminster Hall (Chambers Edinburgh Journal, ns. no. 4, 27 January 1844, p. 54). Nottinghamshire; Newnham Courtenay, Oxfordshire; Rycote Park, Thame, Oxfordshire.
12. Quercus robur or Quercus pedunculata, commonly known as the Pedunculate Oak or English oak.
13. A pine/fir named after Sir Charles Lemon, possibly in jest.
14. Welbeck Oaks, probably at Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire, famous for its large oaks including the Greendale Oak.
15. Misspelling for Emma Thomasina Llewelyn, née Talbot (1806–1881), photographer; WHFT’s Welsh cousin.
16. 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.
17. The great chestnut of Tortworth, Gloucestershire, still in St Leonard’s churchyard, was first recorded in the reign of King John.
18. Queen Elizabeth 1 (1558-1603); and Anne Boleyn (c. 1501/7-1536), wife of Henry VIII.
19. Ampthill, Bedfordshire; Holland House, London.
20. Charles Maurice de Talleyrand Perigord (1754-1838), French statesman. Cornhill Magazine, a Victorian literary journal, was founded by George Murray Smith in 1860 and published until 1975; it was named after Cornhill Street, London.
21. Emperor Franz Joseph I(1830–1916), Emperor of Austria, crowned Apostolic King of Hungary in 1867.
22. A supplement to a newspaper.
23. Aunt Judy’s Magazine, published in London by Bell & Daldy from 1866–1885. The astronomical clock was in Strasbourg Cathedral.
24. The Franco-German War of 1870.
25. Moreton, Dorset: home of the Frampton family. Edward Weld (1806-1877), of Lulworth Castle. In 1898, The Chepstead Elm, in Kent, had a girth of 15 feet; "it is said to have had an annual fair beneath its shade in the reign of Henry V." The Conservative, v. 1 no. 9, 8 September 1898, p. 3