It’s sometimes difficult to get motivated to leave the house at this time of year. But when the weather forecast tells me that it’s going to be dry and relatively mild, then I’m all for putting a plan in place and getting outdoors. As is often the case, my National Trust handbook was thumbed through and I’d made a list of places to visit over the next few months. It can be tricky as until Easter time some aren’t open at all, or aren’t fully open. We’d thought about driving to Shugborough, but the house isn’t open yet, so we’ll save that one for later in the year. By the time Daddy P got home from work on Saturday I’d drawn up a list of four properties that were within an hour and half drive of us and let him decide on which we should visit the following day. He decided that we’d spend the day exploring Lacock Abbey and beyond. So that’s exactly what we did.
Lacock Abbey and the Fox Talbot Museum are located on the edge of Lacock village in Wiltshire and there’s a large car park close to everything. My son was beside himself when he was told he’d be able to collect three different stamps for his National Trust passport as we spent time exploring Lacock Abbey and beyond during our visit.
We decided to start our visit in the grounds of the abbey, which latterly became part of a country house.
As always, once my son has discovered there’s a map available, he soon nominates himself as our tour guide.
We grabbed a quick drink in the cafe before exploring the Abbey Courtyard, which also houses the Tudor bakehouse and brew house.
Lacock Abbey was once home to William Henry Fox Talbot who was the first person to capture a photographic negative in 1835. The furnished rooms of the house were only open on timed guided tours when we visited, and after a fairly long car journey I knew that wasn’t going to work for my son. So we have a reason to revisit in the summer months. But the great hall was open so we decided to have a look at that anyway with my son posing at the archway leading to the main building first.
The steps to the front door made the entrance look rather grand.
My son did make me laugh, he ran on ahead and then struggled to open the large front door. So he started knocking, please let me in. There’s no way he’d have been so bold a year ago.
The roaring fire was a most welcome sight as we stepped inside the great hall for a few minutes.
The ceiling was also something to admire.
Back outdoors and we were eager to find the remains of the abbey and explore some more. I was also interested to see that the snowdrops are already starting to appear around the grounds. Somewhere else I shall have to add to my snowdrops listing post.
The abbey was turned into a country house after the dissolution of the monasteries, but it’s still possible to imagine how it must once have looked as you enter inside.
There’s something about cloisters that even an energetic nine-year old can appreciate and we made the most of having the quadrant to ourselves for a few moments.
Before exploring the different rooms leading off from this area. The tiles were really beautiful and helped my son imagine what the abbey might once have looked like.
The abbey is beautifully preserved and it was a joy to walk around and think about those who must have walked over the floors before us.
Someone found it very amusing to call out to me across the quadrant and play a game of hide and seek.
We’ve learned over the years that the stonework we see today would have been adorned with colour and paintings in medieval times and there was a hint of that dotted around the abbey too.
Exploring Lacock Abbey and beyond would see my son running around the grounds looking for the next area of interest.
He’d spotted that there was a pond on the map and off he ran in search of it. This way!
The view looking back towards Lacock Abbey was impressive, even on a dull grey January day.
It’s possible to explore the winder parkland and that’s something we’d definitely do on another visit later in the year. But for now we just enjoyed looking around the main grounds. Apparently tree hugging is a new thing my son enjoys.
Whenever we are out and about I’m always taking shots of my son and every so often one photo will just take my breath away. This is by no means a perfect shot, but in this photo I can just see the young man my son is becoming, in that one look he just looks so grown up. To me anyway.
We decided to make our way along the pathway leading to the Rockworks to see exactly what they were. As we did so we came across a couple of viewfinders. One showed you what you were looking at but upside down. I explained to my son that when photography was invented, all the images seen were just the same. When you look through the send one you see the scene through a triangle. He was captivated by both and stayed looking through them for ages.
We made it to the Rockworks and my son posed for a shot or two, mostly pulling silly faces. I did manage to get one normal one in amongst the funny ones.
My son allowed us a quick visit to the Botanic Garden, which I should imagine has more to grab his attention from Spring onwards.
Although he did find a couple of sticks so that slowed him down for a moment or two.
Before we headed into Lacock village itself we headed back indoors to have a look around the Fox Talbot Museum which gives you the opportunity to look at photography from its infancy, showcasing techniques and equipment from the earliest times. It’s fascinating and I even spotted the first camera I ever used, my Mum’s old Brownie camera.
My son had heard that there was a chocolate barn within the village and the thought of sampling some of their delights was calling him on.
The village itself is very quaint with lots of old buildings to admire. You can imagine that Lacock is much sought after as a period drama film set, when the residents are out at work and their cars have gone.
There’s a cafe, bakery, various shops to look around and a pub too, and of course my son made a beeline for CoCo Chemistry in the chocolate barn.
We can all confirm that they sell really good chocolates. Yum!
After we’d bought a few treats, and our time exploring Lacock Abbey and beyond was coming to an end. There’s lots to see and do and we are itching to go back and explore the walks around the village. Have you been? If so, which walks would you recommend?