In all the busyness recently I haven’t got around to writing about my trip to Lacock last month on the day after the Maverick Race. I needed something to break up the drive home and also not spend the whole of my birthday just in the car. I’d considered stopping at Wells Cathedral as I’ve never been there but decided I didn’t have the energy for being around a city centre volume of people and Lacock is closer to home. In more ways than one, only an hours onward drive to Abingdon but also very close to Derry Hill and Bowood where my paternal grandparents lived and worked when I was young.
I have been to the village a couple of times. A big family meal once with grandparents and all the aunts, uncle and cousins that I remember only vaguely remember and more recently with a friend looking for somewhere to get lunch on the way home after a night out at a party. This was the first time I’d been to the Abbey and I didn’t realise beforehand but there’s a photography museum there as well. One of the estate’s owners in the 1800’s, Henry Fox Talbot, was one of the first people to invent and develop processes that became the basis for modern photography. Due to the COVID restriction they only what appeared to be about half the usual space set up with displays but enough be interesting. It’s amazing how much the technology has improved in only a couple of hundred years compared to something like printing books. Aside from the cover art an average book from today would probably not be unrecognisable to someone from 500 years ago but the earliest photographs are much more different from what we’re used to today.
The Abbey itself is a beautiful old building and the grounds are lovely. There was a path laid out to try and keep a one way system so I followed that around through the botanic garden, the orchard, rose garden, and on to the Abbey.
There are two parts to the main building. In the lower part surrounding courtyard are the cloisters and chapter house. It was founded as a nunnery in the 13th Century by the Countess of Salisbury.
This cheerful chappy on the wall in the main entrance hall to the upper rooms unsurprisingly caught my eye given the previous days proceedings. The guide pointed out that it was thought to represent winter as there were similar casts on the other walls for spring, summer and autumn. The upper part of the building used to have large open spaces where the nuns would have lived and work communally but after the dissolutions of the monasteries was converted into a house, divided up into rooms and ceilings lowered, improved again by later generations.
I also loved this old mirror. I got caught in the act of the photo by the guide in the room who commented that he’d seen people photograph but hadn’t seen anyone taking a selfie in it before so I attempted to distract him from my vanity with an observation that in all the years and of the hundreds of faces that mirror has seen how few of them would have had masks on as we do now. And moved swiftly on to the next room.
Back outside, there were outbuildings which had been the bakehouse and brewhouse in Tudor times and stables now converted into toilets. After that I headed out for sandwich and a walk around. The village itself is relatively unspoilt by modern intrusions such as traffic lights so gets used as a filming location and is recognisable in things like Pride and Prejudice. Final highlight of the day was finding a very appropriate bottle of wine in the deli to celebrate the run and my birthday with which went very nicely with a fancy takeaway pizza and feet up on the sofa. Happy Birthday to Me! Cheers!