Talbot was not only a man of learning and a Fellow of the Royal Society, he was also a member of Great Britain's landed gentry. Following the death of his father, six-month-old Henry Talbot was named the sole heir to the sprawling and somewhat ruinous estate known as Lacock Abbey. Established in 1232, the abbey was converted into a private residence and its church demolished after the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1539. The fifteenth-century cloisters of the abbey are the setting for this scene, which may have been set up by Talbot's close friend and photographic disciple Calvert Jones. Portraiture and figure studies became a viable subject for photography only after Talbot's second important discovery. On September 23, 1840, Talbot had found a way to chemically excite--or develop, as we would say--the latent image that had registered on a sheet of photo sensitized paper during an exposure too brief to imprint itself visibly. With this new process, patented by its inventor as the calotype or talbotype, exposure times could be reduced from minutes to seconds.