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Lacock Abbey

National Trust Run Medieval Abbey Used For Harry Potter Films

Lacock Abbey

Lacock Abbey

Lacock Abbey was originally founded in 1232 and for over 300 hundred years functioned as a nunnery with up to around 25 nuns.

The fine medieval cloisters, sacristy, chapter house and monastic rooms of the Abbey have survived largely intact.

Today the property is owned by the National Trust and the public can visit.

Lacock Abbey was featured in the first two Harry Potter films and also with the village of Lacock for some of the subsequent films.

The Abbey's cloisters and side rooms were transformed into the classrooms at Hogwarts School while the location was also used for Harry's discovery of the Mirror of Erised.

Lacock survived its original purpose as a nunnery for around 300 years until Henry VIII transformed England in the 16th Century during the reformation, Lacock like nearly all similar establishments were closed down and Lacock Abbey reverted to being a Country House. The Sharington/Talbot family subsequently lived in the Abbey right up until about 50 years ago when the National Trust took over Lacock.

William Henry Fox Talbot

William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-77) was one of the Fox Talbot Family who lived and owned Lacock Abbey. He is remembered for his pioneering work with photography. There is a museum to Fox Talbot, part of the entrance complex to Lacock Abbey and is part of the Lacock Abbey attraction.

William Henry Fox Talbot carried experiments in the mid 1830s led him to discover the negative/positive photographic process.

In 1834, Talbot experimented with a process which he called photogenic drawing: coating drawing paper with salt solution and after it had dried, adding a solution of silver nitrate. By placing a leaf, or fern, or a piece of lace, on the paper's surface and exposing it to the sun, he obtained an image.

Lacock Abbey Cloisters

Lacock Abbey Cloisters

In 1835, Talbot made the earliest known surviving photographic negative using a camera, a small photogenic drawing of the latticed window in the south gallery of Lacock Abbey.

Talbot's findings were announced on 31st January 1839, one of the first official announcements of the birth of photography.

He discovered that paper treated with a coating of silver iodide, exposed in camera, and developed in gallic acid mixed with silver nitrate and acetic acid would bring out a latent image.

With elation and wonder on 23rd September 1840 he watched a picture gradually appearing on a blank sheet of paper.

Visiting Lacock Abbey

The Abbey itself is in large grounds immediately adjacent to Lacock Village. Its sweeping lawns often with sheep on them go down to the River Avon.

You can tour the Abbey House itself, though opening hours are restricted compared with the rest of the site. The gardens are of interest and the groundsmen make an effort to label and educate. Full opening hours are at the official National Trust web site.

You can also see an early brewery, perhaps something you wouldn't associate with nuns!

Its hard to gauge how much time the typical person spends at Lacock. For those who just want to see the Harry Potter connection you can easily be in and out in 30 minutes.

Most visitors touring the house and museum and a walk around the house may take a couple of hours. A lot of people laze out and just watch the world go by in the extensive grounds.

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