Lacock Abbey In The Cotswolds: A Visitor's Guide

Whether you’re looking to walk the magical hallways of Hogwarts, swoon over the interiors that played host to Mr Darcy, or capture a snapshot of the birthplace of modern photography, there are plenty of reasons to visit the beautiful Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire.

An Ancient Attraction Just 10 Minutes (4 Miles) From The King’s Arms

Spending the day stomping around an ancient monument can be thirsty work, so we recommend you schedule a pub-stop at The King’s Arms Arms inn for some tasty sustenance. They may not serve Butterbeer, but their spellbinding selection of Butcombe ales and magical menu of award-winning food will not disappoint, and if you choose to stay the night, their comfortable boutique bedrooms will have you asleep faster than you can say ‘Dumbledore’.

History of Lacock Abbey

Lacock Abbey has a long history dating back to the early 13th century. Its origins may have been as a nunnery, but following the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII in the mid-16th century, the Abbey was purchased by Tudor courtier Sir William Sharington, who converted the building into a family home.

The house later passed into the hands of the Talbot family through marriage, and during the 19th century became the residence of William Henry Fox Talbot, who made history by capturing the world’s first photographic negative in the building’s South Gallery, lending the Abbey its name as the birthplace of modern photography.

Today, Lacock Abbey is a Grade I-listed building and belongs to National Trust, after being gifted to the charity by the Talbot family in 1944.

What To See At Lacock Abbey

As a result of its past incarnations as a nunnery and private home, Lacock Abbey is a fascinating mish-mash of architectural styles. Visitors can explore its medieval cloisters and adjoining chapter house, sacristy and warming house for a glimpse into the building’s monastic past, and marvel at the architectural contributions made by later residents, including the Renaissance-inspired octagonal tower, and the Gothic-inspired entrance arch and Great Hall.

There is also the Fox Talbot Museum on the ground floor of the Abbey, which is dedicated to celebrating the life and achievements of former resident and photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot, and a gallery which hosts contemporary photographic exhibitions throughout the year.

The Abbey’s beautiful wooded grounds are ideal for taking relaxed walks in every season, and there’s lots to discover in the surrounding picturesque village of Lacock, with its quaint cottages, medieval tithe barn, old lock-up, village church and variety of interesting shops.

Lacock Abbey On Screen

Appropriate for the birthplace of modern photography, Lacock Abbey is no stranger to the big screen.

Both the abbey and surrounding village are instantly recognisable from a variety of film and television productions, including Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Pride and Prejudice and Downton Abbey.

Lacock Abbey and Harry Potter

Of all the productions that have passed through Lacock Abbey over the years, perhaps none is better known than Harry Potter, making the abbey a site of pilgrimage for many die-hard Potterheads around the world. Must-see filming locations include:

  • The Abbey’s Cloisters, which were magicked into Hogwarts’ corridors for the Philosophers Stone and the Chamber of Secrets
  • The Warming Room, which was transformed into Professor Quirrel’s Defense Against the Dark Arts Classroom in the Philosopher’s Stone
  • The Sacristy Room, which was the location for Professor Snape’s Potions Classroom in the Philosopher’s Stone
  • The Chapter House, which appears in both the Philosopher’s Stone as the room where Harry first stumbles upon the Mirror of Erised, and in the Chamber of Secrets as the study hall where Harry listens in on his fellow students debating whether he’s the heir of Slytherin!
Lacock Abbey and Pride and Prejudice

Fans of Jane Austen’s classic novel would do very well to visit Lacock Abbey, with its swoon-worthy interiors featuring in the BBC’s 1995 TV mini-series adaptation for the flashback scenes of Mr Darcy’s time at Cambridge University. The Abbey’s cloister was also where viewers learn of the history of his strained relationship with Mr Wickham.

Lacock Village and Downton Abbey

Although there were no scenes shot within the Abbey, the surrounding village of Lacock has starred not once, but twice in Downton Abbey. In 2015 the period drama’s crew transformed one of the village’s streets into a 1920s livestock market, with sheep, pigs and a 1-tonne long-horned bull joining the cast to create a bustling market scene attended by Lord Grantham, his family and many of the staff.

In 2018 the crew returned to the village to shoot scenes for the much-anticipated Downton Abbey movie, with its streets setting the scene for a spectacular royal parade which featured real-life Lacock residents dressed in period-accurate costumes!

Directions To The Kings Arms From Lacock Abbey

The King’s Arms is an 18th century pub and inn, located in the heart of Melksham.

To reach The King’s Arms from Lacock National Trust Car Park, you must first head westerly towards Hither Way and, upon reaching the roundabout, take the first exit onto Melksham Road.

Take a slight left onto the A350 and continue for approximately 3 miles before exiting onto the A3102. Continue towards Market Place via High Street and you will see The King’s Arms on your left.