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Document number: 1656
Date: 27 Feb 1828
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: MCPHAIL John
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA28-17
Last updated: 14th December 2010

To H. F Talbot Esqr


I received the basket of plants on Monday morning I went to Chippenham <1> on Saturday night on purpose to fetch them but they had not arrivd – The ground being so very wet I could not plant them in your B. garden at the time, and as the most of them were very weak specimens I made up a fine composition of mould for them and put them in pots to get rooted afresh. The Lathyrus Grandiflora is dead; when I examind the Ball I found the roots quite rotten; I wish to let you know this so that you may demand another plant I have discoverd a well when trenching in the botanic garden it is about half way between the Crab tree and the quinces, it is about 7 feet deep, built round with stones about 1 foot of water – I have got the walls round the middle garden formed and the first coat of gravel put on them, there was a very shallow place of Mould about the centre of the left side of the middle garden and as gravel could not be got very convenient I made a gravel pit there and find abundance of good gravel, it would be an excellent place to sink a pump well and would not be much trouble

For a week past we have been making the walk through the shrubery [sic] by way of the terrace to the garden – it will have a fine appearance when finishd I have relaid all the stone edging on the broad walk in the middle garden at the same width took off the dirty gravel for the bottom of the other walks & gave it fresh gravel, carried it straight out at the broad gate through in front of the sheds have taken up the herbs there & trenchd it, will make a fine flower bed, I have done nothing in the upper garden yet more than the botanic garden I have not had time to do anything in the way of Nursery – & I am afraid it is out of my power to go on to the extent intended without it is your pleasure to allow me some more assistance –

Lady Elizabeths <2> [sic] Flower garden is to do – The upper garden to trench and walks to make – the walk and planting to the rock work. the border & walk outside the garden by the gate the Coach drive to repair a deal of turf to cut & lay – besides planting in different places, & the spring is now fast approaching when it will take the most of our time to crop the garden plant & nail trees &c I deferrd mentioning these circumstances sooner as I expected to see you here a week ago, but now as the day is so long that man can work the full number of hours I consider that it would be doing the place and myself a great injustice if I were to put it off Longer, I have considerd the matter & think that if it is your pleasure to allow me 3 or 4 men for a month I could do a great deal to it but it is quite impossible for me as I am at present, I shall feel much gratified to have your mind on the subject as soon as possible as vegetation gets on fast. – The balancing money in my hand is 7sh 8d – Please to advance a months wages for the men – D. Robins began work with me on Monday –

I will want some more Fruit trees and some annual flower seeds, hope to see you to talk about that and several other things.

I am Sir your devoted Sert
John McPhail

Lacock Abbey
Feby 27th 1828 –

H. F Talbot Esqr
31 Sacville [sic] Street


1. Chippenham, Wiltshire: largest town near Lacock, 3 miles N.

2. Lady Elisabeth Theresa Feilding, née Fox Strangways, first m Talbot (1773–1846), WHFT’s mother.

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