Monday, 9 September 2013

A visit to Lacock: Walking in the footsteps of Elizabeth Bennett and Harry Potter!

Lacock in Wiltshire owned almost in its entirety by the National Trust is a village full of picturesque streets and historic cottages. It is also home to the beautiful Lacock Abbey and the Fox Talbot photography museum.


Essentially unchanged for centuries and with the absence of TV aerials and satellite dishes, the village has become a favourite location for film makers.  A few lorry loads of soil over the tarmac, and a farm animal or two is all that’s required to transform the scene.

Lacock during the filming of Cranford via

The Sign of the Angel Hotel was used as Cranford’s pub and the Red Lion Inn became the village shop. Other Classic dramas filmed here include Pride and Prejudice and Emma.


In the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, Lacock was used to portray the village of Meryton while the Abbey was chosen for some of the Pemberley interior scenes.  

This is how Jane Austen describes Meryton at the beginning of Pride and Prejudice;  

The village of Longbourn was only one mile from Meryton; a most convenient distance for the young ladies, who were usually tempted thither three or four times a week, to pay their duty to their aunt and to a milliner's shop just over the way. The two youngest of the family, Catherine and Lydia, were particularly frequent in these attentions; their minds were more vacant than their sisters, and when nothing better offered, a walk to Meryton was necessary to amuse their morning hours and furnish conversation for the evening; and however, bare of news the country in general might be, they always contrived to learn some from their aunt. At present, indeed, they were well supplied both with news and happiness by the recent arrival of a militia regiment in the neighbourhood; it was to remain the whole winter, and Meryton was the headquarters.


Lacock has been used in several other productions, including Moll Flanders, Tom Brown's Schooldays, The Lady in Black, Randall & Hopkirk, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Wolf Man and Lark Rise to Candleford.


Several locations around the village were also used in the Harry Potter films. The Abbey cloisters were the setting for the Mirror of Erised, and for the scene where Harry frees the house elf Dobby. Rooms off the cloisters became classrooms, particularly for Professor Snape’s potions lessons. Some of the outdoor scenes in the half-blood prince were also filmed in the village.


We couldn't have picked a nicer day to visit. According to the Met Office September the 5th was one of the warmest September days for seven years. A few wispy clouds were the only things to disturb the beautiful blue sky. My lasting memories will be of friendly people, period buildings and masses of flowers. 


We spoilt ourselves with lunch in a pub and afternoon tea in the gardens of King John's Hunting Lodge. The scones, clotted cream (the cream specially produced for the tea room from a Jersey herd near Frome) and quince jelly were a delight! King John’s Hunting Lodge is the oldest house in the village, with the main part dating back to the 13th century. Further details here


If you are thinking of visiting Lacock now is a good time. The National Trust is hosting ‘Regency at Lacock’ a celebration of Jane Austen's much-loved novel Pride and Prejudice in the year of its 200th anniversary.  Further information here 


Yet more beautiful flowers this time in the Abbey court yard. This is where you will find a second-hand book shop, with a range of lovely things to buy. Any trip to a National Trust property is enhanced by the added attraction of a book shop!


Church Street with the ‘Sign of the Angel’ Inn at the far end. An exceptionally fine late 15th century house, said to have been built in 1480. Alterations in the 16th and 17th centuries saw the Angel converted to a wool merchant’s house. Today the Angel has returned to its origins as an inn. The name, ‘the sign of the Angel’ is thought to derive from the gold ‘Angel’ coin that was current at the time. 


Flower and hornet (I think!)  in the Abbey gardens.



Getting a decent shot of this pretty house wasn't easy. It’s situated on a very narrow street but thankfully, parking is for residents only so I didn't have to contend with lots of cars.


I hope this makes you smile.  It looks as though it's been ripped down and put back up a good many times, so perhaps not everyone in Lacock appreciates the funny side! I sympathise with the grandparents, but it still makes me chuckle. Everything in the village looks perfect on the outside but maybe there is more going on than meets the eye!

Thanks for calling in and taking the time to read my post.  

Our 25% off everything sale is still on at March House Books.

49 comments:

  1. What a lovely place.A little like the villages in Warwickshire. Makes me homesick.

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    1. Sorry Roger I didn’t mean to make you homesick! Maybe it’s time for a trip back?

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    2. My wife agrees: "you can go the very second we're divorced, or I'm dead."
      She didn't like it very much when we lived there.

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  2. Oh my, I did laugh at that note. And drool over the shots of the cottages and inn. I really must visit Lacock one day. A coincidence: the paragraph on Meryton from PRIDE & PREJUDICE is exactly the one I'd read with a student last week. She was telling me she didn't understand why the girls had 'vacant minds' and why they'd spent time like that!

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    1. Hello Claudine, I know you would love Lacock, there is history on every corner. I’m just re-reading Pride and Prejudice(again) so the visit was perfectly timed. The note made me laugh too, not because I think the theft of a paddling pool is funny, just the wish that the thief somehow manages to drown in it!
      I would love to know how you replied to your student. In fact, I would love to be one of your students! How lucky they are to have such a good teacher.

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  3. I laughed at the note and really enjoyed the pictures! :)

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    1. Thank you Laura, I'm glad you enjoyed both the note and the pictures. Barbara.

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  4. Last night as my husband and I were reading some of Seamus Heaney's poetry, I stopped to comment on how our poetry writing teacher (A British woman) had mentioned how much the British love nature. It is evident to me that in both France and in England, your respect for the preservation of history, land, nature and all the beauty these things evoke is of utmost importance. Oh Barbara, the joy of such a village! Many of us Americans crave to be in such a setting! And in some parts of our country, there are old homes and buildings from our earliest days, but nothing this OLD AND LOVELY! Cottages....my dream homes. What a lovely walk with you. Enjoy your day! Anita

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    1. Dear Anita, you leave the nicest comments! I know you would enjoy Lackock and there are lots of places in your part of the world that we long to visit. How lovely it would be if we could ‘beam ourselves’ backwards and forwards between continents.

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  5. What a perfectly picturesque village!

    It looks like the kind of place you'd find pictured on an old chocolate box or biscuit tin. The kind of place many people dream of retiring to.

    Seeing that paddling pool notice does suggest that it's not quite as perfect as it first appears.

    Pretty much like judging a book by its cover : )

    Thank you for sharing another wonderful post!

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    1. Hi Yvonne,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the pics, I certainly enjoyed sharing them :)
      It is a gorgeous place and one I could happily visit again and again.

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  6. Thanks for sharing your wonderful day out at Lacock. When my daughter was youger, on one of our trips to visit family, we spent time traveling around England. We often found ourselves visiting Harry Potter sights, because she was really into the books then. But we never made it to Lacock. How sorry I am now, looking at your beautiful photographs.

    And the sign - it really did make me laugh, perhaps because I might have written the same thing or something close to it.

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    1. Hello Alex, an excuse for another visit perhaps?
      I have to say the sign was one of the highlights of my day. I can just imagine grandma or grandpa on the warpath – and like you, I would probably have done something similar!

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  7. I been there!! It is just marvelous and I'm so glad you are introducing it here. I loved this place and we got to visit when we were at the last leg of a journey in Bath. I'm so glad we did too. The village was tremendously lovely and so interesting to see something of that age kept as close to the original.
    -Jamie
    ChatterBlossom

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    1. Hi Jamie, Bath is somewhere else I love to visit. The problem is the shops are so very tempting. I really should take my camera and leave my purse at home! Thanks for calling in.

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  8. The note made me giggle :)
    What a beautiful and charming town. I love those old houses. That's a place I would like to visit once.
    Great post and photos, Barbara!

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    1. Thanks Hilde, it really is nice having friends to share the pictures with. I don’t think I would take half as many if it were not for the blog.

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  9. What a delightful trip! I can see why filmmakers are attracted to the area and why so many films are made there. It was wonderful that you provided so much history along with the pictures. It I amazing to me that the village can be transformed so easily and that is still holds so much charm from days past. I would love to take a visit and have marked it down on my places to visit list (I have lists for all over the world). The pictures are so beautiful. I plan to come back and stroll through the village again- as I had so much fun this time. :) I am so glad you had such a nice day!

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    1. Hi Stephanie, We’ve got one of those lists the problem is it gets longer with every passing day. Pinterest has a lot to answer for!! Lacock is beautiful, and I’m sure you would enjoy it. It's also very close to Bath so you might be able to do both at the same time. If you ever do make the trip, you must let me know, and I will sort out some ‘places of special interest’ for you.

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  10. I've seen many of the productions you mentioned but I still adore Lark Rise to Candleford. Often watch the repeats through Amazon.. anyway I thought some of the buildings looked familiar. What a lovely place, I am so glad you posted this. I really thought perhaps they were sets, but to know that they really exist, I'm thrilled! Oh what bliss it would be to visit! Thank you so much for these wonderful pics!

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    1. Hi Diane, you get a real sense of déjà vu as you walk around as much of it is really familiar. I’m not sure how the residents feel about all the filming but I did read somewhere that they often get to be extras. How much fun would that be?

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  11. I love love this village. I can spend hours in a place like this. So well preserved and without the tourist stuff. I can see why it has been used in a number of films (many my favourites) I must visit here the next time I am in England. Thanks for letting us know about it. (I do try to visit National Trust sites)

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    1. Hello Darlene, Just think of the adventures Amanda could have in Lacock! The National Trust has excelled itself everything is just so beautifully kept. It’s remarkable when you realise it’s a living breathing village, and not a film set.

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    2. Amanda would have a great tiem in Lacock for sure.

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  12. So fun to see where Cranford and so many other of my favorites were filmed!! Thank you for sharing!!

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    1. Always happy to share, thank you for taking the time to call in and leave a comment. Barbara.

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  13. What a lovely visit to Lacock made possible by your post. We are fans of Cranford and Pride and Prejudice so I appreciated a closer look at the village.

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    1. Hello Stacey, thank you so much for taking a look. It makes days out even better when you can share them.

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  14. What a beautiful little village. I can see why every film crew decides to use it. Your tea sounds delightful, too.

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    1. Hello Gayle, you are not wrong about the tea – it was scrumptious!

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  15. ...pure english magic! ~ thank yoU! sooooooooooooooooOoh much for sharing this bit of total deliciousness! ~ blessed be! ~ dear kindred heart!...(O:

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    1. Hello, my dear! I had a feeling you might enjoy this post. Thank you for your sweet comment. :)

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  16. Oh! Wonderful place! I see you had a fantastic day.
    So many great films took place there...we can understand why through your beautiful photos and post. Very interesting!
    Besos!

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    1. Thank you Silvina, we had a great day.

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  17. Oh my goodness, thank you for my amazing virtual visit to what looks and sounds like an amazingly beautiful village.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to join me! Isn't the internet wonderful, it’s so easy to visit other parts of the world without leaving your seat!

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  18. The last pic really made me smile Barbara , such a nice and peaceful place , thank you so much for sharing :)

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    1. You are very welcome Aunt Mary. I'm so glad you enjoyed the pictures.

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  19. What a gorgeous wee village! The photographs are stunning, I love that last pic!

    Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

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    1. Thanks Lainy, I'm glad you enjoyed them. Thanks also for calling in. Barbara.

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  20. oh my, Barbara, it's so lovely and enchanting. I hope it never changes. If I had the opportunity to visit it, I would never leave. Thank you for sharing these.

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    1. Hello Donna, if you do visit you must let us know so that we could meet up for a cup of tea (or coffee if you prefer!) Another visit to Lacock would not be a hardship for us. Barbara

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  21. Looks like you're doing location scouting for Donna Yates' book Always. I think it would make a great movie and these homes look perfect! That sign is hilarious.

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    1. Hello Eve, I thought it would be a great location for Darleen Fosters Amanda, but I agree it would also be perfect for Always. Maybe you could set your next book in England, and we could all meet up in Lacock! :)

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  22. Its gorgeous Barbara - I'd really love to see it sometime - its wonderful that it has been preserved so well & that the residents have bought into the concept of no satellite dishes etc (although it probably isn't up to them!) I've seen a lot of those shows/films - usually you think they have used a set or digitally changed the setting in some way (as they can do now.) I also remember reading when they filmed the Midsomer Murder episodes (I was a great fan of the original series) there were also no satellites allowed or people using strimmers etc - not sure what village was used for that one!

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    1. Hello Sharon, It’s well worth a visit, and I’m sure you would fall in love with the place just as much as we did. The National Trust own most of the village, so I would imagine the rules and regulations are pretty strict (and thank goodness they are!) I’m not sure where Midsomer Murder is filmed, but I can remember reading something about locations in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. It stuck in my mind because I was born in a place called Ibstone in Buckinghamshire. I was very young when we moved away, so don’t recognise any of the places in the show.

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  23. What a wonderful place! I must visit some day. :)

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    1. Hi Nikki-ann I'm sure you would enjoy it. Barbara

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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