The Watercolour Project

Project
One of the watercolours in the collection at Lacock Abbey

In 1833, while visiting Lake Como in Italy following his marriage to Constance Mundy, Talbot found himself in the frustrating position of being the only one in the group unable to sketch the scenery, even with the help of a camera lucida.

" When the eye was removed from the prism – in which all had looked beautiful – I found that the faithless pencil had only left traces on the paper melancholy to behold."
- William Henry Fox Talbot

This prompted him to dream up a new machine with light-sensitive paper that would make the sketches for him automatically.

An early photograph of William Henry Fox Talbot
Early photograph of William Henry Fox Talbot who owned Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire
An early photograph of William Henry Fox Talbot

When the Lacock Abbey collection came into the ownership of the National Trust at the end of 2009, it comprised over 15,000 items. At the time that the collection was acquired, its full extent was largely unknown and the property team have been gradually cataloguing items and developing a plan to deal with a huge conservation backlog ever since. 

Through this work, it was found that within the collection we held over 2,000 watercolours, painted largely by William Henry Fox Talbot’s wife and children. The paintings are of an exceptionally high quality and provide an insight into the lives of the family, the time that they lived and their travels across the world. Unfortunately many of the paintings are in poor condition and are in urgent need of conservation.

One of the watercolours in the Lacock Abbey collection
One of the watercolours in the Lacock Abbey collection
One of the watercolours in the Lacock Abbey collection

Why is the collection so important?
William Henry Fox Talbot famously created the first ever photographic negative here at Lacock Abbey. He is quoted as being so frustrated by his own artistic talents (compared to those of his family around him) that he decided that he would find another way to fix an image on paper. The paintings themselves are of extremely high quality and alongside the many letters that the family wrote to one another, are a wonderful insight into the life and times of the family and their travels abroad. 

Why do we need to raise funds?
The paintings are stored in old folio folders and are in need of conservation work to avoid any further deterioration. Surveys have been completed on a majority of the paintings and the work that is needed comes to a cost of approximately £105,000.

First woman ever to run the London Marathon for the National Trust
First woman ever to run the London Marathon for the National Trust
First woman ever to run the London Marathon for the National Trust

First woman ever to run the London Marathon for the National Trust raises money for Lacock Abbey

In 2019, Crissy Spice is running in the Virgin London Marathon in aid of the Watercolour Project at Lacock Abbey.  She will be the first woman to run the London Marathon for the National Trust and has already raised a huge £4,000!

Follow her journey in Instagram - @crissymspice

 

 

A massive thank you

No matter how you chose to help and how much you raise, your fundraising will make a difference. Thank you so much for protecting the places that are special to us all. Good luck! 

If you would like to get started fundraising for a project for the National Trust, why not order yourself a kit today?

The kit includes:

  • a fundraising guide packed with ideas, hints and tips;
  • stickers to proudly shout about what you’ve done;
  • a pledge card to help keep you motivated and on target;
  • posters to ensure as many people know as possible; and
  • a collection box to gather those important donations