I spent a lovely sunny afternoon in Lacock with my friend Emma yesterday. I’d not been for many years, and it was nice to get reacquainted with this picturesque National Trust village. Even if you’ve not been there in person, you might recognise bits of it from such costume dramas as Pride and Prejudice, Cranford and Downton Abbey. It’s a little time capsule of a village, so you can see why it’s so popular with the film and TV industry. (Fun fact for those of you who keep up to date with such things: Lacock is also where the YouTuber known as ‘Zoella’ grew up.)
Our first port of call yesterday was the magnificent tithe barn, where the sunlight was streaming through the window at one end. I do love a good tithe barn.
This is the village bakery, where the gruff lady behind the counter was dressed in Victorian garb. There wasn’t much space to sit in for lunch, so we ate across the road at the Carpenter’s Arms (where the welcome left just as much to be desired as the bakery), returning to the bakery at the end of the afternoon for a cup of tea.
I loved the cobblestones leading up to the church.
I remembered the river from visiting Lacock as a child. We didn’t have time to find out where the path to the left led, but that’s something to look forward to on a warmer day.
This is Lacock Pottery, where I bought a medieval-style decorative tile. As you can see, its entrance was presided over by a friendly cat…
…who was very amenable to a bit of attention.
But in feline terms the best was yet to come. This majestic creature was sitting in a flowerpot just behind the wall. It was friendlier than its evil gaze implies, and sat placidly while we fussed it.
It had the softest, most luxurious fur. This one belongs to the pottery, while the one on the wall didn’t, and the owner of the pottery explained that the two are not friends.
On one corner of the village, an enterprising local had set up this delightful little unmanned stall, selling homemade chutneys, curds, fudge and giant meringues. To pay, you simply left the money in the mug, so we each put a pound in and helped ourselves to a meringue. So lovely that this kind of thing still happens.
We didn’t go into the George Inn, but it looked old and interesting and could be a good lunch option for next time.
I couldn’t resist taking a photograph of this lovely old bow window.
This is the Abbey itself: a stately home built over the cloisters of a 13th century nunnery.
There were loads of snowdrops in evidence – a welcome sign that spring is on its way.
Unfortunately, the only room inside the Abbey that was open was the Great Hall, which was brought to life by the lively crackle of a roaring fire. We were a bit hot in our outdoor clothes to sit next to it, but the chairs looked an inviting retreat from the cold.
The surrounding parkland is really beautiful, and was full of people walking their dogs. I’m always pleased when dogs are allowed.
Don’t you just love the spirally chimney pots?
A view of the atmospheric cloisters, which you might recognise as part of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films.
This is the courtyard, where you could just imagine the horses and carriages drawing up in days gone by. There is even a small brewery in the buildings to the left – one of its original Tudor features.
This was the glasshouse in one of the gardens, where several varieties of delicate narcissi were being encouraged into flower early away from the harsh winter cold outside.
We just had time to look round the fascinating Fox Talbot Museum before it closed. It’s well worth a look, charting the progress of William Talbot (a Victorian member of the family who owned Lacock from the 19th century until it was given to the National Trust in 1944) in his pioneering photography efforts in the 1830s. There was also a nice photography exhibition upstairs, themed around life on remote Scottish island farms.
Back in the village, we headed back to the bakery for a cup of tea, admiring lots more gorgeous old buildings along the way. Earlier in the day, we’d been able to go into one of the National Trust’s holiday cottages, which had been opened to the public for a few days. I don’t have any photos, as there were too many people inside, but it dates to around 1450 and was every bit as higgledy piggledy and cosy as you’d imagine.
Lacock doesn’t have many shops, but the ones it does have are mostly gift shops, and they’re delightful. It would be a great place to do your Christmas shopping.
The final view of the day, on the walk back to our cars, was the imposing red brick facade of the Red Lion pub, which is rather a contrast to the village’s other buildings.
You can find out more about visiting lovely Lacock here. We’ll definitely be going back to look round the inside of the Abbey over the summer!