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Document number: 10043
Date: 21 Jun 1822
Recipient: FEILDING Elisabeth Theresa, nee Fox Strangways
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: Bodleian Library, Oxford - Fox Talbot Personal Archive
Collection number: FT10087
Last updated: 24th April 2015

To Kit
Pray don't leave Town before I return, that is to say Tuesday - Your Affte H. Talbot


June 21. 1822

I forgot to mention a curious circumstance whith respect to Luffenham church. The flash of lightning stopped the clock, without doing it any damage, so that the time when it happened became known, which [missing text] a little before 10. The noise of the thunder was so great, that nobody heard the steeple fall down. <1> The newspapers hae the following epigram on Marsh-

An Ecclesiastical View
A dreary prospect, soil unkind,
A produce mean and harsh
All this and worse methinks you'll find
In Peterborough Marsh.-

If you ever saw the view over the Fens from Peterboro' Cathedral, you will allow the faithfullness of the above simile. Pray send the enclosed letter in the Ambassadors Bag - <2> and tear off my note above & give it to Kit.

Yours Affte

[address panel:]
Lady Elisabeth Feilding
31 Sackville Street

[an illegible pencil notation is crossed out on the outer wrapper]


1. The Gentleman's Magazine reported, 'One night during the late sultry weather, the neighborhood of Stamford was visited by one of tne most severe tempests of thunder and lightning ever experienced in this climate. It com- menced between eight and nine o'clock, and was not over till nearly eleven ; during all which time the lightning was extremely vivid, and the thunder sometimes very awful ... at North LufTenham (Co. Rutland) a flash of lightning: a few minutes before ten o'clock, by its intensity and continuence, spread terror and dismay through the village beyond what the oldest person ever experienced. The flash was accompanied by a whizzing noise and strong sulphureous smell, and the thunder ensued so instantaneously that the inhabitants were not aware what mischief it was occasioning, though all persons in the neighborhood of the church supposed their own houses to be falling. In the morning it was discovered, however, that the spire of the church had been much injured, upwards of ten feet having been struck off from the top of it, and some of the stones carried to the wonderful distance of 170 yards. The iron spindle of the weather-cock had acted as a conductor to the lightning ; and the electric fluid, after demolishing the top of the spire, had passed to one of the windows lower down, and forced out a part of the wall of the steeple of the north-east side. From this point the lightning descended into the church, which it filled, and where its shattering effects were visible in nearly all the lower windows of the body it. The solid walls have been in several situations pierced through by the subtile fluid, whose course is wonderfully traced. Under one of the arches of the south aisle it seems to have meandered without doing mischief, as there is a burnt zigzag mark on the stones, an irregular dotted line of smoke, presenting one of the most singular evidences of the harmless presence of electric phenomena ever beheld. The marks, we understand, will be allowed to remain as a memorial of the visitation. Several pews on the south side of the church are shivered to pieces, and the walls are much damaged. In the chancel and body of the church, which has been handsomely new pewed within a few years, little damage is done. At a distance tne venerable edifice, from its elevated station, shorn of its top and picturesque fane, which towered above the trees, looks dismally. The fane was picked up on Tuesday morning in a paddock 60 yards distant from the steeple, in a west direction; and the same ground was covered with the stones, as if they had been discharged from artillery.' 1822, Supplement to v. 92, pt. 1, p. 637,

2. This letter has not been located. This probably involved WHFT's favourite uncle, William Thomas Horner Fox Strangways 4th Earl of Ilchester (1795- 10 Jan 1865), botanist, art collector & diplomat. It was not uncommon to carry personal family items in the bag, and the letter may have been addressed to him or perhaps he was to forward it to someone on the Continent.

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