'Shook to Death'. The Travels of the Talbots of Penrice and Margam in the Georgian Period Joanna Martin Before the middle of the eighteenth century few outsiders ventured into Glamorgan, unless they came for family or business reasons. The area had little to attract the 'polite' traveller in a period of classicism, when medieval architecture was out of fashion, and the wild, uncultivated and mountainous tracts which made up most of the interior part of the county were to be feared, rather than admired. As H.P. Wyndham stated in 1774 in the preface to the first edition of his Tour in Wales, 'The Welsh tour has been hitherto strangely neglected, for while the English roads are crowded with travelling parties of pleasure, the Welsh are so rarely visited that the author did not meet with a single party of pleasure during his six weeks' journey through Wales'. This was due, Wyndham continued, to 'the general prejudice which prevails, that the Welsh roads are impracticable, the inns intolerable, and the people insolent and brutish'.1 Moreover, he might have added, the locals did not even speak English. Of the best-known early travellers, Celia Fiennes ignored South Wales altogether. Daniel Defoe visited Llandaff, Cardiff, Neath and Swansea, but he was mainly interested in local economic conditions, especially the coal trade. Defoe nearly missed out the southern part of Glamorgan entirely, after finding that the interior of the county was full of 'horrid rocks and precipices'.2 From the 1770s onwards everything began to change. A developing passion for wild, picturesque scenery, ornamented with romantic ruined castles and abbeys, was stimulated by the writings of Edmund Burke and William Gilpin. These brought a flood of travellers to the Welsh mountains, many of whom published accounts of their tours. The readers of these accounts such as Wyndham's Tour were induced to follow in the author's footsteps. The public's appetite was further whetted by printed illustrations of Welsh scenes, and by exhibitions of paintings of romantic landscapes by artists such as Richard Wilson and Thomas Jones of Pencerrig in Radnorshire. Towards the the end of the eighteenth century, too, the French Revolution and wars in Europe induced gentlemen and ladies who might previously have considered a foreign tour to explore their own country instead. Ruined medieval castles and abbeys were studied with the interest that
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