Our gardens are in full bloom, warmer days are stretching out in front of us, and those priceless ‘summer firsts’ are easier than ever to tick off the list. The National Trust village of Lacock is the perfect place to spend those summer days in the fresh air by having picnics and watching nature in the woodland gardens and orchards. Here, Alison Jane Hoare from Lacock gives us five reasons to visit over the coming months...
1. Lacock High Street
Start your trip to Lacock with a pause at the window of 2 High Street. In the late nineteenth century the building was used as a coffee tavern, after the First World War it became a stationers, and in 1966 it incorporated the Post Office. It remained in the same family until it closed in the early 1980s. Miss Butler, the last resident, arranged the shop window in the style of early twentieth-century displays and it has remained untouched ever since.
William Henry Fox Talbot, a pioneer of Victorian photography, moved to Lacock Abbey in 1827 and created the earliest surviving photographic negative in 1835, taken of a small window in Lacock Abbey's South Gallery.
At the Fox Talbot Museum, go back in time from iPhone to Fox Talbot's mousetrap camera and discover how photography came to be. Learn about the history of photography, the chemistry behind Talbot's processes and find out how two men entered a race to claim the title 'Inventor of Photography'. Don’t forget to head upstairs to the mezzanine gallery from 26th May to 9th September for Another Way of Telling: a photography exhibition by Karen Knorr.
3. Lacock Abbey’s Woodland Garden
The woodland garden at Lacock Abbey is at its best in May when the wild garlic provides a lush green carpet and the views of the surrounding fields and parkland is pierced with sunlight. Between 28th May and 1st June Lacock Abbey will play host to Whispering Woods, a magical troupe of aerialists and storytellers who will be weaving a captivating journey through the woodland garden, with ten performances over five days. Booking will be essential for this event.
4. Healing Herbs
This May, Head Gardener Sue Carter and her team have created a fantastic herb border to show some of the plants the nuns may have grown for medicinal purposes and share some medieval remedies. Some probably did no harm, but not much good either, while others are effective and still used today. A Family Summer Trail inspired by healing herbs will be on offer from June until September.
5. Ela’s Foundation Story
Ela, the thirteenth-century Countess of Salisbury, founded Lacock Abbey in 1232 and originally included a church which was demolished during the dissolution of the monasteries. This story will be told through reinterpretation of the furnished rooms of the Abbey, but also through The Foundation Story of Lacock Abbey, a large-scale architectural installation on the South Lawn from 5th May until 15th July.
With something for everyone at the National Trust’s Lacock Abbey, Village and Fox Talbot Museum, it makes for a fantastic family day out. Step back in time and explore the medieval Abbey-turned-family-home; find out about the fascinating origins of photography at the museum; and wander the picturesque village streets which you may recognise from being used in film and TV for their authentic, historic feel.
By Alison Jane Hoare from Lacock