Articles tagged with: Charles Henry Talbot

Cats in the Lacock archive

on Monday, 11 April 2016. Posted in Other

When I visited Lacock recently, I was privileged to meet the lovely Morag, whom I had seen featured a few times on the National Trust’s Facebook page and was delighted to meet in person. She was taking this in her stride, used to being fussed over, as one of the resident cats of Lacock.

Morag paint

Morag outside Lacock Abbey. Photo courtesy C. Hardy

The Lacock archive is as full of references to cats as there are currently cats living in and around the abbey. Although these are mostly photographs, there are also text references to cats. The earliest reference I’ve found is from the 19th century. Charles Henry Talbot, who owned Lacock from 1877, kept most of the letters written to him (although sadly didn’t make copies of the ones he sent) and from there we can find several interesting references to his home life and relationships with his family and friends – and animals! We know from correspondence that Charles had at least two cats in the last part of the 19th century, called Stripy and Bunny. It appears that he was very fond of them. Matilda Talbot, who inherited Lacock from her uncle Charles, was equally fond of them and many photographs of cats have appeared from amongst her papers.

 

 

 

Matilda Talbot

on Tuesday, 24 March 2015. Posted in Matilda Talbot

Matilda Theresa Talbot (born Matilda Gilchrist-Clark in 1871) was the last owner of Lacock Abbey. She inherited it from her unmarried uncle Charles Henry Talbot. He died in 1916 and left it to her in his will. She had an older brother William (her other brother Jack predeceased his uncle) and it was expected that William would inherit because he was older, a man, and married with children. Matilda, on the other hand, was unmarried and had no children, but it can be assumed that the reason she inherited the estate was because she had spent so much of her life living with her uncle at Lacock, with her aunt Rosamond Talbot until her death and then for the next ten years. She continued to live at Lacock until her own death in 1956, although for a decade of that she actually lived as a tenant of the National Trust having given the abbey and most of the estate over to the public in 1944. She offered the estate to William when her uncle died, but he declined it, saying that he would always be on hand to give advice if she needed it. There are letters that survive from William giving very good advice, and there are also some documents which show the influence and assistance of the agent, Richard Foley, who had been employed as a young man by Charles Henry Talbot and continued to work for the estate until the early 1940s. It appears from the estate records that she did very well being a Lady of the Manor. She ran the estate well, taking advice when she needed it and letting her agent help as much as he could. But she enjoyed running a large estate and the significance that came with it. She certainly put her own stamp on Lacock Abbey and its part in 20th century history.

 Matilda Talbot in Wren uniform 1914-1918

Matilda was a very colourful character and this comes across in the sources in the Lacock archive as well as through personal memories – there are many people still alive today who remember her clearly even if they were young children when she was still living. Her autobiography, My life and Lacock Abbey, is another good source of knowledge of her character. The book describes her early life and her association with Lacock as she was growing up, and then how she took over the abbey and enabled the estate to flourish in the 20th century. Lord Methuen, in his introduction to her book, writes “She has been a great traveller, with a passion for learning foreign languages. A woman of many parts she has been, amongst other things, a professional and highly qualified cookery instructor. After inheriting Lacock Abbey from her uncle, she proceeded, after paying off the death duties, to put the house and estate in order and on an even financial keel and to live there: eventually, in 1944, making the property over to the National Trust as a measure of assuring its future existence and continuity”.

The Banks family

on Friday, 25 September 2015. Posted in Other

Masons and labourers of Lacock

Matilda Talbot, in a broadcast made on the BBC Home Service on 13th September 1954, said: “The medium in which most of the Lacock men liked to work was stone, and the quarries of the famous Bath stone were within four miles. Many of them, therefore, became masons and were very good stone carvers”. Masons were commonly found in and around Lacock doing work on the Lacock estate and to the abbey well before Matilda’s time. Everything needed to be kept in good condition and it seems from bills we have in the Lacock archive, and some letters, that some owners of the estate were extremely concerned with the maintenance of the cottages and the abbey itself. We have masons’ records from the 17th century and particularly for the 18th and 19th centuries, when we find large bills submitted to the Talbots for building and repair work all over the estate, at farms, in the small village cottages, mills and bridges. We can also find references to masonry work from even the earliest records, as any reference to building work would have been looking at local masons and builders. The most common family to do masonry work for the Talbots were the Banks family.

George Banks bill to Lady Feilding