Nestled in the bucolic countryside of Wiltshire, Lacock village is famed for many things – to name a few, it’s the birthplace of photography, the location for a myriad of films and TV series and it’s downright beautiful in its own right. Most of Lacock village belongs to the National Trust. From Harry Potter to Cranford via all things Jane Austen, if it features wands or bonnets it was probably filmed in Lacock, Wiltshire. If you haven’t previously come across William Henry Fox Talbot, the inventive fellow who took the world’s first photograph in Lacock Abbey, you may have heard of another of village’s other alumni, mega vlogger Zoella. She may not have a museum dedicated to her just yet – but give it time.
TOP 5 LACOCK THINGS TO DO
Lacock Abbey has been many things over the years. Evolving from an abbey to a nunnery and a spell as a royalist garrison in the English civil war, it then became a family home. The Abbey, gardens, brewhouse and bakery are all open to the public through the National Trust. Don’t miss the octagonal tower in the house and of course the window which was the subject of the first ever photograph. If you are going round the Abbey, allow a couple of hours to do everything. The guides in the Abbey are brilliant and have lots of entertaining stories to tell and interesting things to point out.
2. LACOCK: HARRY POTTER
The medieval cloisters of the Abbey were used in the Harry Potter movies as Hogwarts school. Professor Snape’s and Professor Quirrell’s classrooms were filmed here, as were the Mirror of Erised scenes. Eagle eyed Harry Potter fans may spot that the Potters’ home from the Philosopher’s Stone is also in Lacock.
As well as Harry Potter, many other films and TV series have been filmed in Lacock and you can see photographs from plenty film shoots in The George pub – play spot the character!
The history of photography unfolds here in the Fox Talbot Museum of Photography at Lacock Abbey. A fitting tribute to the location of the world’s first photograph, exhibitions of photography take place here throughout the year and change regularly.
4. LACOCK VILLAGE
Lacock village is owned almost completely by the National Trust, who work to preserve it. It’s not a museum, it’s a real working village and all the houses are lived in. There is a small school and all the infrastructure of a traditional English village. The houses are predominantly 18th century and the church and the tithe barn are 14th century.
It’s a village, though, of half-timbered houses, traditional English pubs, village gardens and a strong sense of community.
There are plenty of places to eat and drink in Lacock. One of my favourites is the King John Hunting Lodge Tea Room with its pretty garden and traditional English teas, a great summer option.
In winter I love The George Inn, complete with medieval stocks and a fireplace with a dog wheel where our canine friends used to turn the spits of roasting meats. Luckily the dogs as chefs concept has had its day but the roaring fires are still going. If you have come from overseas looking for the quintessential English pub – this is it.
5. DOORSTEP SHOPPING
Who needs actual shops with walls and doors and checkouts? Not Lacock! Yes it does have some small village stores and specialist retailers, but what it also has is a culture of doorstep shopping. Enterprising locals capitalising on the village’s status as one of the most charming in England purvey their wares from their doorsteps. Jars of jam are accompanied by signs warning they are still warm. What is available on any given day will vary but can include fresh eggs and chutneys, fudge, huge chewy meringues in glass jars, plants, flowers and who could resist a pickled egg?
The village hall also often has craft markets where you can ‘meet the makers’ of the products on show and for sale.
My top Lacock shop though has to be the chocolate shop, Coco Chemistry, where it surely is impossible to leave empty-handed. It’s handmade, it’s local and it’s utterly scrumptious. A bit hit with the children who start asking for the chocolate shop as soon as the word Lacock is mentioned.
Wiltshire Scrapstore has a charming shop in the village selling upcycled items for gifts, all in aid of local good causes.
If it’s raining …. the Abbey and Museum are both indoors
If the kids are running amok … there is a playground in the village where they can let off some steam . It’s also a good place for a picnic. Pooh sticks and splodging in the river are also options.
If you are from overseas, you are seriously going to be challenged to find a more traditional English village than this. It is eye-wateringly pretty with all the key features: church – yes; grain barn – of course; village hall – check; half-timbered houses – it’s a yes again.
If you have drunk too much ale in the fine hostelries – the village still has the original drunk tank – enjoy!
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