The Old Porch, Vale Of Neath
Photographer: Napper, R P, British and Foreign Portrait Company
Medium: Photographic print
View of a rock formation known as the Old Porch in the Vale of Neath, south Wales, taken by R. P. Napper of the British and Foreign Portrait Company. The image is one of twenty landscape photographs by Napper documenting the picturesque scenery of the Neath valley, which were published in 1864.
In his accompanying text, Charles Henry Waring wrote of the site: “Not far from the Holly-Bush Tower are some perpendicular rocks, one of which looks like an old Porch”. According to Waring, the Vale of Neath was until recent times the haunt of fairies, and he relates a number of whimsical Victorian stories about their inhabitation of the landscape. Once apon a time, he writes, the fairies used to live inside the rocks:
“…sometimes you will find fern and other leaves lying along in the rock; and this is where some poor fairy had made his bed soft because he was ill, or had the rheumatism. And this accounts for what are now called fossils being found in the middle of rocks, and also for the live toads which are sometimes found there; for they were kept by the old women fairies because they were thought to be good for the toothache, which made the poor sufferers twist and writhe about so dreadfully that they quite spoilt the shape of the rocks, and made them so uncomfortable that they were obliged to leave them. And this is the reason of the contortions in rocks…And unless you were told you would hardly believe that the Old Porch in the picture was a doorway into one of these old rock houses of the fairies.”