Lacock Abbey and Village | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Lacock Abbey and Village

Sarah Roller

18 Feb 2021

About Lacock Abbey and Village

Lacock Abbey and Village form part of a National Trust owned and extremely well preserved area of North Wiltshire countryside. The abbey and village are open to visitors, and remain a popular filming location due to their unspoilt appearance.

History of Lacock

The village of Lacock is recorded in the Domesday Book: it was later a planned medieval time and the grid layout used is still evident today.

Lacock Abbey was founded in April 1232, by Ela Countess of Salisbury and High Sheriff of Salisbury, one of the most powerful women of her day. Six years later, she took holy orders and became a nun, and was made Abbess of Lacock in 1240. Some of what is visible today is Ela’s original design, and a rare example of medieval monastic architecture.

Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the abbey was purchased by Sir William Sharington, who turned the remnants of the building (including the cloister) into a country house in Italian Renaissance style.

The house and grounds were transformed again in the 18th century, this time by John Ivory Talbot, who added various Gothic features. His grandson was the pioneering photographer William Fox Talbot, and Lacock houses a Fox Talbot museum today in recognition of his association with the place.

Fox Talbot also provided a school for village residents from 1824, which had accommodation for up to 100 pupils: this lasted until the 1960s, when declining numbers stopped it being tenable.

The last private owner of Lacock, Matilda Talbot, gave the estate to the National Trust in 1944.

Lacock Abbey and village today

Lacock Abbey and the Fox Talbot Museum are owned by the National Trust today: the abbey is particularly atmosphere and well worth visiting. There are frequently exhibitions of various film props from series or films that have shot at Lacock.

The village is picturesque, and looks almost exactly like it did 200 years ago. Whilst there is not much to do in itself, it’s a lovely place to wander round and there are plenty of photo opportunities.

Getting to Lacock

Lacock is best accessed by car, although there is limited parking: it’s signposted from the A350 (Chippenham – Poole). The village is still very much lived in and visitors are asked to respect residents and park in designated areas only.

There are cycle racks, a network of footpaths should you wish to walk, and the nearest stations are Chippenham and Melksham – both are about 3 miles away.