The 13th-century Lacock Abbey is the main attraction in Lacock, which is a charming village 6.5km (4 miles) south of Chippenham.
The abbey was founded in 1232 and operated as an Augustinian nunnery until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century. At this point, it was acquired by Sir William Sharington who converted it into a grand family home.
The home was largely built on top of the original abbey with the main rooms of the house on the first floor above the old abbey’s cloisters. A number of additions were made to the house in a mish-ash of architectural styles in the four centuries that it operated as a private home.
It is a Grade I-listed building that is under the care of the National Trust, who also operate the Fox Talbot Museum and own most of the village.
Lacock Abbey has been used as a filming location for a number of films and television programmes including Moll Flanders (1975), Pride and Prejudice (1995), Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), The Other Boleyn Girl (2008), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), The Wolfman (2010), Wolf Hall (2015) and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018).
What to see at Lacock Abbey
There is quite a lot to see at Lacock Abbey as there are remnants of its monastic past in the cloisters, filming locations from various films and television series, the restored house and the photography museum.
Dating from the 13th century, the cloister represents the oldest part of Lacock Abbey, which was used during the 300 years that it was a nunnery. The cloister walks on the ground floor of Lacock Abbey have fine vaulted ceilings and surround a courtyard garden on three sides. There is also a complex of vaulted rooms adjoining the cloister that date from Lacock Abbey’s early years, which include the chapter house, sacristy and warming house.The living areas of the house have been restored to show how it would have appeared while it was a family home with a particular emphasis on its appearance during the Victorian era.
Its use as a filming location for the first two Harry Potter films has made Lacock Abbey a popular spot for Harry Potter fans, who can pick up a filming locations leaflet at the site entrance.
Lacock Abbey’s most famous resident was William Henry Fox Talbot, a pioneer in the development of photography who made the world’s oldest photographic negative here in 1835. The Fox Talbot Museum, which has a focus on the history of photography, is located in the rooms upstairs.
It is set on expansive grounds that go down to the River Avon and you can often see sheep grazing on the lawn. The grounds include woodland-style gardens as well as allotments and an orchard.
Visiting Lacock Abbey
Lacock Abbey is located in the lovely village of Lacock, which is 6.5km (4 miles) south of Chippenham.
Local bus route X34 runs between Chippenham and Lacock with a journey time of around 12 minutes. The bus stops outside The George pub in Lacock and Lacock Abbey is around a six-minute walk from the bus stop.
Car parking is available around 200m (220 yards) from Lacock Abbey. Parking costs £4 per day (free for National Trust members).
The admission charge is £15 admission, which also includes access to the Fox Talbot Museum.
There is a gift shop near the entrance to the site as well as a tea room run by the National Trust. There are also several places to eat and drink within the village, including several excellent local pubs. Alternatively, you can bring a picnic lunch with you to Lacombe and eat it in the Abbey grounds.
Harry Potter fans who are only visiting Lacock Abbey to see where the first two Harry Potter films were shot can be in and out of Lacock Abbey in just half an hour. However, the average visitor will spend much longer here, particularly if they also spend time in the Fox Talbot Museum. Most people will spend at least a few hours here and Lacock makes a good half-day excursion when you include the rest of the village.