It is easy to see why tourists flock to the village of Lacock in Wiltshire. It has over 200 protected buildings, mostly dating back to the 18th century or earlier. At one time the Abbey and Lacock Estate were owned by William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877), an early pioneer of photography, and his niece later left the entire estate to the National Trust. As a result, there has been little new building since the end of the 19th century, making this a classic English village.
But it is not just tourists who are attracted to Lacock. It has also proved to be popular with film and TV companies. Walking around the well preserved streets, you could easily imagine yourself in another century, making the village an ideal location for period dramas. Particular buildings of interest to film makers include the 14th century Tithe Barn, the medieval church, historic inns, and an 18th century lock-up.
Film and TV productions in Lacock
The 2007 BBC drama The Cranford Chronicles, starring Judi Dench, was filmed in Lacock. For this production the Sign of the Angel Hotel was used as Cranford’s pub, The Hearts of Oak, and the Red Lion Inn became the village shop. Other classic dramas filmed here include Pride and Prejudice (1995) and Emma (1996). The village also appeared in the TV series Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased).
Lacock has played a part in full scale feature films, too. It made a cameo appearance in the 2008 horror film The Wolfman, where frozen corpses were stacked up in the Tithe Barn. Parts of The Other Boleyn Girl (also 2008) were filmed at Lacock Abbey.
Lacock Abbey and Harry Potter
The 13th century Abbey is worth visiting in its own right, as a historic building, and as the former home of William Henry Fox Talbot. It was converted into a private house in the 16th century, following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and now features grand reception rooms as well as the original cloisters and chapter house.
There is a museum in the Abbey devoted to Fox Talbot, whose work led to the development of photography and to its use as a commercial and artistic medium. He is credited with having discovered many of the major techniques of photography, including the use of photographic negatives. The museum contains the original of a very early photograph that he took of an oriel window in the Abbey.
However, film buffs may be more interested in the Abbey as a location for some of the Harry Potter films. The cloisters were the setting for the Mirror of Erised and for the scene where Harry frees the house elf Dobby in the Chamber of Secrets. Rooms off the cloisters became classrooms, particularly for Professor Snape’s potions lessons.
Some outdoor scenes for The Half Blood Prince were filmed in the village, and Professor Slughorn’s house is also in Lacock.
There are a number of places to eat and drink in the village. Hotel and self-catering accommodation are available.
The Abbey grounds are open all year round, but the inside is closed in the winter months and on Tuesdays.