The problem with self-employment is that if you’re not careful you can find yourself feeling like you can’t stop – if you’re not working, then you’re marketing and doing all the admin that comes with running a business. So I made a decision the other week that I would take a day off, and actual full day off, on a weekday too, and took myself off on a day trip out. It wasn’t totally a day off from photography though as I decided to take a trip to Lacock Abbey and village, near Chippenham, which is the place where William Henry Fox Talbot produced one of the first (if not the first) photographic negative. Although I’ve been a photographer now for nearly 20 (yes, 20!) years, I’ve never got around to visiting Lacock, and as I now live around an hours drive away it was time I made the trip.
The Latticed Window – replica camera and negative
Lacock Abbey was the family home of William Henry Fox Talbot, and is now owned and maintained by the National Trust. Inside the main entrance there is a fascinating small museum dedicated to Fox Talbot and the early days of photography – I found it interesting to hear that he started his experiments in capturing and image due to the fact that he couldn’t draw or paint as well as his wife and daughter. I also got into photography as I’m pretty rubbish at drawing, so photography is one way of creating without having to try and learn to paint! The museum also holds some interesting items and images related to photography over the years since Fox Talbot created his images, including a gold Nikon camera!
Whilst I was there, there was also an exhibition upstairs in the museum entiled “Drawn to the Land” with images by Sophie Gerrard, documenting 6 women living and working in the most remote parts of Scotland. Some stunning images, and I ended up chatting to a lovely couple and giving them a few hints and tips on photography whilst we wandered around looking at Sophies images 🙂
Wandering around the Abbey, it’s a beautiful place, and of course the part I really wanted to see was the lattice window, made famous as the subject of the oldest negative in existence.
It was very strange to be stood in the same spot as Fox Talbot, and to think that if this invention had turned out differently, who knows what job I would be doing, and to think that from this point back in 1835, came the life of images we have today. Photography and all things that have evolved from it have advanced so rapidly, this photo below (grabbed quickly on my mobile phone) is an interesting representation of who far we’ve come, we take so many more photos in 30 seconds, than were taken in the whole of the 1800’s. Everyone has a camera in their pocket, and the quality is getting better with each new phone that comes out. The photo below was taken on my Samsung Galaxy S6 phone – not bad, eh?
It was quite something standing there, looking at the same window, and taking the same photo that was taken all those years ago.
The Abbey itself is such a lovely place, there’s so much to see, not only the furnished family rooms, but also the unfurnished abbey rooms, which open out into the cloisters. I found it interesting, reading some of the signs around the place, that some of the external walls were taken out in the 1800’s to create a romantic ruin which opened up onto the main grounds. These walls have since been replaced, but I can imagine how beautiful it must have all looked.
After a walk around the Abbey itself I also took a stroll through the grounds, which were looking beautiful as all the crocus were coming out, the daffodils and snowdrops were still around just about. There were signs that in a few weeks it could be bluebell central – maybe I should book myself another day off!
Below are a couple of panoramas I shot whilst there, well worth a quick spin!