Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Lacock village and abbey

Lacock is renowned for its quintessentially english village streets. It is a Cotswold tourist highlight, but the National Trust owned abbey is the real must see here in my opinion.

We wandered around the village on a drizzly Monday afternoon, so the streets were relatively quiet for June. It is easy to see how Lacock got its reputation as a village that seems to have paused in the 18th Century, the cars being the only indication of modern life.

Spot the dog!

There are a few different places to have lunch, a cream tea, or an ice cream. Of course, the National Trust tea rooms are always a nice place to get a cuppa, sandwich, or something sweet. 

In the abbey grounds there is so much to see. A walled garden, green house, rose garden, orchard, as well as the extensive park. Last week the early summer blooms were at their peak. Allium, delphinium, roses, etc. there was so much colour and life.

I love to see summer grass left to grow with wildflowers dotted through it. There is something so lovely about over grown lawn with a mowed pathway through it. This is the orchard, overlooking the church.

The abbey itself dates from the 13th Century, and for three centuries belonged to an Augustinian order of nuns before it was bought and transformed into a private home. The cloisters are one of the oldest parts of the building, and the monastic rooms attached to these stunning hallways are largely unchanged since the 13th Century.

The cloisters have been used for backdrops in Harry Potter films as well as the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice. They're beautiful and atmospheric, and so fascinating.

It is quite an imposing building, standing tall and rigid in the landscape. Handsome and grandiose from the outside, it is quite a layered patchwork of styles and eras. One half is even Tudor era, with a classic Tudor layout and inner quadrangle.

Climbing and rambling roses softened the gothic features and added a feminine touch to the abbey facade. The whole structure has a very masculine feel and energy even though it began its life as the spiritual home of nuns.

Inside, the abbey is showing its age. The rooms are grandiose and were once richly furnished. A lot of the contents are beginning to deteriorate, which is such a shame, but the National Trust are doing their utmost to preserve things as much as possible. 

The hand painted wallpaper in one of the rooms of the residential wing is illustrative of how the interior and furnishings of a 13th Century building are inevitably the victims of relentless damp, dust, light and temperature fluctuations. 

Lacock Abbey is famously the birthplace of photography. William Henry Fox Talbot created the oldest still surviving photographic negative in the abbey, his family home. Today visitors can stand at the window that his original negative captured in 1835. 

It is an incredibly diverse building with an equally diverse history to match.

Kate  x

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