In recent times, this traditional English village of timber-framed, and golden Cotswold stone houses has appeared in Downton Abbey, the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice and Cranford; in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone; and in the film Wolfman. Lacock Abbey also featured in The Other Boleyn Girl and its cloisters were used for Hogwarts classrooms.
All of this, plus the fact that the National Trust looks after Lacock, makes it easy to forget that this is another one of those impossibly pretty, tiny English villages where people—a population of about 1,100—actually live and work.
The village is about three miles from Chippenham, signposted from the A350. Although there is no visitor parking within the village, you can drive through it and there is pay and display visitor parking about 220 yards from the village. If you are touring the Cotswolds or planning a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Bath, Avebury and Stonehenge, a visit to Lacock will fit right in.
The village itself is wonderful to walk through. It’s atmospheric and photogenic and there are several tea rooms, a hotel with a pub, and local shops worth exploring. All of that, save the small pay and display parking fee (free for members of the National Trust), is free. An admission fee covers entry to the nearly 800-year old Abbey and grounds—not a religious establishment but a home since the 1540s—and to the Fox Talbot Museum in the 16th century Tithe Barn. Of the original abbey, the medieval cloisters, a sacristy and chapter house remain.
William Fox Talbot, who inherited Lacock Abbey, was pioneer in the early days of photography. He perfected the technique of preserving negative images so that photographs could be duplicated by being printed and fixed on photographic paper. The museum created in his home and in his honor features permanent and temporary exhibitions of early as well as modern photography.