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July 1, 2007
From journal Historic Villages and Cathedrals of Wiltshire
by GB from Devizes
Devizes, United Kingdom
September 1, 2006
Walk back down West Street and turn left into Church Street by the raised pavement. Upon the pavement here is "Quintessentially", a lovely shop selling all manner of hand-made soaps, as well as scented gifts, herbs, flowers and toiletries. Opposite the shop is The Cruck House, one of the oldest in the village. Continue along Church Street past the Bakery and Sign of The Angel restaurant on the left and the Carpenter’s Arms on the right. A little further on, to the left is a little lane that leads to the 18th-century pack horse bridge that crosses the Bide Brook. It has just two arches and is sometimes known as "Ladds Bridge," after its builder. The view south from here through the ford with the cottages on both sides is truly uplifting.
Retrace your steps to Church Street, turn left and there, on a raised plot, is the Church of St Cyriac, dating back to Norman times. The nave has a fine Perpendicular roof, and the interior is decorated beautifully, with fan-vaulting and some fine stained-glass windows. The church is well known for its strange array of "grotesques," both inside and out, and now serves as the Parish seat, whereas the smaller St Anne’s, on Bowden Hill, serves as a Chapel of Ease.
Finally, opposite St Cyriac’s on Church Street, is Lacock Pottery, which offers bed-and-breakfast as well as its internationally renown fine-art ceramics.
Dead opposite the barn is the Chamberlain’s House, a beautifully preserved Tudor beamed cottage, which is unfortunately privately owned and therefore not available to view internally. The original inhabitant was Daniel Chamberlain, a local miller who in 1720 decided to seek his fortune in London. His business and his family prospered, and in later years, his direct descendants included the Right Honorable Joseph Chamberlain and his son, Arthur Neville Chamberlain.
Continuing along the High Street, walk by the NT shop and the stores and post office to the end of the road, where to your left you will see the wonderful Porch House. This beautifully preserved Tudor house is again privately owned, but its architectural merits are plain for all to see. Its name comes from the huge extended beamed porch that extends out onto the pavement.
Cross the road now, turn left into West Street and walk for a few yards until to your right you see the large iron gateway into the graveyard. Follow the pathway between the graves and to your right is the last resting place of William Fox Talbot, the inventor of modern photography, whose family once owned the Abbey and grounds. His museum features in a separate entry.
October 28, 2004
Lacock is to be found just off the A350 between Chippenham and Melksham. Like its counterpart, Castle Combe, Lacock has been featured in many TV and big screen productions over the years, not least of all the Harry Potter films, the refectory scenes being shot inside the imposing Abbey.
The Abbey dates from 1229, and it prospered until the dissolution in 1539, upon which it was purchased for conversion into a private residence. The Abbey today still has its own bakery and brewery and is one of the main attractions of the village.
The other major attraction, other than the architecture in general, is the museum dedicated to William Fox Talbot, inventor of modern photography. Fox Talbot's family bought the Abbey in the 17th century, and he can rightly claim to be the most famous son of Lacock. The museum is situated in the Abbey barn and depicts photographs from the earliest of times.
The village has many craftsmen based within, including potters and goldsmiths, who sell their wares from outlets on the main street. Lacock also has several pubs, including the imposing Red Lion, opposite the Abbey entrance, the Carpenters Arms, tucked away behind the main street, and the Bell, halfway up the steep Bowden Hill that climbs south from the village towards Devizes.
The large car park is free, and there are ample facilities for refreshments, along with local shops, including the one owned by the National Trust. Be warned though--Lacock is very busy in summer, and the car park will often be full by 11am.
From journal An autumn stroll through the chocolate box villages of north Wiltshire