Sunday, 30 August 2009

Fox Talbot at Lacock Abbey,Wiltshire Pt.9

On a personal note before proceeding, we turned on our central heating today as we were cold - in August I ask you - and the forecast for the coming week (except tomorrow when it will be in the 80's) is for Autumnal weather - not yet please! The picture below is of the same beach shown in my last post from last weekend. People yesterday were all wrapped up and finding it hard to walk against the wind.

William Henry Fox Talbot - the father of modern photography and only son of William Davenport Talbot of Lacock Abbey.

Whilst visiting Lacock Abbey we took time to visit the Fox Talbot Museum sited at the entrance. I realised that as an avid photographer I just 'clicked' and took for granted that the outcome would be a replica of what I was looking at. There is obviously a lot more to the origins of modern photography and it was especially interesting to visit the place where it all began.

Although the museum is situated in the family home (Lacock Abbey)Talbot's photos are on display at the British Library in London.

William Henry Fox Talbot was born at Melbury in Dorset on 11th February 1800, at the home of the Earl of Ilchester; his Mother, Lady Elizabeth Fox-Strangeways, was the eldest daughter of the Earl. His Father, William Davenport Talbot, an army officer, died when Henry was only 6 months old so Lady Elizabeth and her son spent the early years of his life in the homes of various relatives.

A brilliant child and gifted scholar, he excelled, both at Harrow and Cambridge, in the classics and sciences.

In 1827 he returned to his ancestral home, Lacock Abbey, where he was Lord of the Manor. In 1832 he married Constance Mundy of Markeaton Hall in Derbyshire. That year he also became member of parliament for Chippenham, but only stayed for about 2 years.

His interests then took him abroad, particularly to Italy. On his travels he used a camera lucida and a camera obscura, optical aids to drawing, which gave him the idea of retaining permanently the images these aids produced.

From 1850 Fox Talbot concentrated on perfecting reproduction techniques, so that original photographs could b e reproduced as printed illustrations. He coated metal plates with bichromated gelatin using silk to form a screen pattern, patenting this process in 1852.

The span of Fox Talbot's life embraces an age of tremendous progress in the arts and sciences in Britain and Europe. When he died in September 1877, he was one of the rare people who had made significant contributions to the advances in both these fields.

Fox Talbot was a classicist as well as a scientist and contributed to many published papers and scientific works.

His two volumes on Classical and Antiquarian Researches, published by Longmans in 1838 put forward some new arguments,while his solutions to obtruse mathematical problems led to his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1831. In 1838 he was awarded the Society's Royal Medal for his research on the integral calculus, and in 1842 gained the Rumford Medal for his photographic discoveries.

In the 1850's, Fox Talbot began work on the Assyrian script, an interest that was to last the rest of his life. He became so expert in translating this complex cuneiform writing that he was asked to contribute as an examiner for the British Museum. He also gave financial support to archaeological expeditions.

(Information taken from The National Trust book on Fox Talbot - top photograph from same book)

Whilst in the Abbey grounds we went inside a room sized Camera Obscurer that was set up in the gardens. It was fascinating to be inside and have a view of the whole of one side of the abbey projected onto the wall through what seemed like a pinhole.

The Fox Talbot Museum also houses the work of other famous photographers from time to time. Whilst there the exhibition was showing some of the work of

Abelardo Morell

In the above pictures he had used a Camera Obscurer to superimpose scenes from outside a building onto the objects pictured from inside. There were lots of examples in the exhibition but I found that my camera only really dealt with the black and white images as I was taking them through glass and the lighting was obscuring the coloured images. For more detailed information go to this link.

How fortunate we are to be able to pick up a camera and just click as a result of the work of Fox Talbot.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Proud Grandma (plus!)

Before the promised Fox Talbot post I could not resist giving you a little peep of my growing granchildren.

Oliver is now 3 and enjoying his first pony ride

And playing on a tractor at Pilgrims Hall

Rebekah is now 4 months and adores her big brother

And now for something very different. We have had some hot days this week and with summer being a washout so far it seemed the beach was the destination of choice for many on Sunday. This is just one corner of one beach on the south coast (Bournemouth) and it was estimated there were 340,000 day visitors there.
I am sitting here just imagining the queues for the toilets, ice-creams, tea etc., not to mention the car parking and traffic. Tea in my garden was a much better option in my estimation even though I love to swim in the sea.

Double click to see if you can find a space! Photo coutesy The Daily Mail

Monday, 17 August 2009

My Garden in August and Taking Tea

Ready to take afternoon tea in the garden on a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon.

Taking a break from other posts to peep into the garden in August. The time of year when I start to become somewhat bored with the garden. Gone is the newness and freshness of spring with all its beautiful blossom and the June flush of roses with their bright and vibant colours, not to mention the colour and perfume of the Lavenders.

However August can bring a beauty of it's own. Plants may be slightly faded and lots of shrubs pruned back, but those that are in flower take on a more rugged and untidy look with an abundance of growth. So come on in and have a peep and join the tea party if you like.

Lots of people from our house church are away on holiday at the moment so those that are left get to enjoy a couple of hours taking tea in the garden with a good selection of home made cakes too of course.

One of the pots contains a delicate Earl Grey tea sent to me by Willow of Willows Cottage in California. Willow and her husband stayed with us last year and she sent the tea over with Sara of Much Ado About Something (also from California) who stayed here this year with her husband CT.Both their blogs are on my sidebar.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Lacock Abbey,Wiltshire Pt.8

This abbey which is part of the village was founded in
1232 ad as a nunnery. After the dissolution of the monastries, it was sold to Sir Willian Sharington, who in 1539 ad began transforming it into a family home. He preserved the beautiful medieval cloisters, and added a three storey tower in Italian Renaissance style. He also built a stable courtyard complete with brewery and bake house.

Sharington's descendants have been connected with the abbey ever since, the most renowned being William Henry Fox Talbot
(1800-77),photographic pioneer and inventor of the negative/positive photographic process. (Next post)

Lacock Abbey together with most of the village, Manor farm and Bewley Common was donated to The National Trust by Matilda Talbot between 1944 and 1946.

Having walked through the parkland we arrive at the entrance
The converted stable block

I am definitely not a fan of Harry Potter but the Philosopher's Stone was filmed here in the cloisters

This is the only place that still has a 1500 ad Couldron. Queen Ann visited here and records show that a side of bacon and a sack of peas were boiled in this couldron at the time

This large stone tank is where the fish (usually carp) were kept to be eaten on Fridays as the tradition (which still exists in some parts) was not to eat meat on a Friday

Outer walls dismantled to show original artwork behind (double-clicking will show these more clearly)

The original floor

More artwork discovered when brickwork stripped away

There are some nice gardens here but we are preferring to visit the Fox Talbot Museum in the grounds before calling it a day. I will save this for my next post.