It was just a short drive from Castle Combe to Lacock, another village in the County Wiltshire in the Cotswolds. A very special village as it is almost in its entirety owned by the National Trust: “A quintessential English village” (The Village) Often used as a location for movies and TV shows like “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”, “Pride and Prejudice”, “Downton Abbey”, “Cranford” or “Wolfman”.
Walking into the village from the parking place, you´ll be greeted by Lacock Abbey. Founded in April 1232
by Ela, Countess of Salisbury. One of the most powerful women of the Middle Ages, she had previously served as Sheriff of Wiltshire and her 1225 copy of Magna Carta was kept at Lacock until 1946 when it moved to the British Museum. She was Lacock’s first abbess and served for 17 years. She died in 1261. (History of Lacock)
Shut down in 1539 ordered by Henry VIII after his break with Rome, the abbey was bought only one year later by William Sharington who transformed it into a country house. Even so, he had the church and chapel demolished he choose to keep the stunning stone cloister from the 1400s. (Another location of the Harry Potter movie series)
William had died in 1553 and had left the manor to his brother Henry who hosted Queen Elizabeth I in 1574 and was knighted by her. Henry then left Lacock Abbey to his daughter Olive and her husband John Talbot.
In 1800 five-months-old Henry Fox Talbot inherited Lacock from his father. The estate was in debt and rent out until 1827 when Fox Talbot moved in with his mother and stepmother and stayed living there until his death in 1877. He was a forward-thinking engineer and scientist but maybe not so much of a talented painter? On his honeymoon in Tuscany in 1833, he wrote:
‘How charming it would be if it were possible to cause these natural images to imprint themselves durably, and remain fixed on paper’ (Lacock history)
He started to experiment with new photographic processes and in August 1835 Fox Talbot captured the very first photographic negative in the South Gallery at Lacock Abbey – finally, it was possible to produce multiple “positive” copies of one negative image. – it was the birth of modern photography!
It was already late in the afternoon – or better said it wasn´t that late but the sunset was at 4 o`clock, and so I decided to visit Lacock Abbey and the Foy Talbot museum next time and just take a little walk through the lovely village.
The most modern buildings are from the 18th century a lot of them from before. A nice variety of shops, pubs and tearooms make the strolling around even more enticing. If it weren´t for all the parked cars it really would be a step back in time.
After driving just some meters up I was back in the winter wonderland …