near Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN15 2LG
There are many reasons for visiting Lacock Abbey and Village. I’ll be honest, one of mine was a certain wizard with a unique scar on his forehead. Looking around the village, there were a lot of people in Hogwarts clothing so I wasn’t alone. It’s also been used to film the village scenes for the new Downtown Abbey film so I guess there will be a while new batch of visitors eager to explore.
The Harry Potter locations are actually only a small part of the building; the iconic corridors, classrooms for Prof. Snape and Quirrell and the location of the Mirror of Erised were all filmed inside the Abbey. There are also a couple of buildings in the village itself that were used as locations. You’d be forgiven for missing the fact that Harry Potter isn’t the only film shot here, it has also been used for Downton Abbey and Cranford amongst other films.
There is actually an awful lot of history in the Abbey that has nothing to do with movies. The Abbey was founded in the 1200’s and it’s been through many permutations and additions since then. It is also the place where one of it’s former residents invented modern photography! It even had its own copy of the Magna Carta in the safe room. Once you move away from the medieval Cloisters the rest of the Abbey has a very different feel, much more homely.
The building is not pushchair friendly. The flooring of the cloisters can be hard to get around and you’re not allowed to take pushchairs or rear baby-carriers. They do have hip carriers you can borrow and front baby-carriers are fine. There are quite a lot of steps but it’s easy enough to get around. Different parts of the house are set up to show different times in the history of the house. There are guides in every room and we found them all to be very friendly and informative. They were also really good at engaging with the kids. Because it was fairly quiet most of them made a point of coming over and pointing out interesting things to them which is always appreciated. When one asked middle child if he wanted to walk into their massive “piggy bank” he was delighted. She also suggested he asked for a pay rise from us so he could fill a room that big with his own money – that got a lot of giggles. There are a lot of wonderful things to be found throughout the property, particularly with a focus on science whilst oldest child loved.
As you go into the visitor’s centre there is the Fox-Talbot museum, all about the invention of photography but my boys were too excited to “go to Hogwarts” to have a look around. My Hubby had a bit of a look and said it was very interesting. In addition to the house there is also a cafe in the courtyard, Tudor bakery and brewery and the gardens.
Out in the village there is the stables cafe, a decent playground, picnic area and public toilets. I did have one issue with the toilets in the village though; there are two steps to get into them. This means if you want to change a nappy you have to leave the pushchair outside. The baby changing station was right next to the hand driers as well which is always fun with babies who don’t like the noise!
Naturally, I had a cream tea and it was quite nice if a little dry. I did, later on, discover the Lacock Bakery and their treats came home with us! The village is small but it is largely untouched because it is mainly owned by the National Trust. There are a couple of pubs and some nice, independent shops. I just so happen to be eating some chocolate from CoCo Chemistry whilst I write this post. At £5.50 for a 100g bar it’s certainly not cheap but it is yummy. There are a lot of people wondering round taking photos of the houses (including me) but I did feel for the residents. There are lots of signs up asking you not to be intrusive. I noticed there is now a large hedge outside the “home” of Lilly and James Potter so I guess they’re not that keen on being the centre of attention.
All in we were here for about 4 1/2 hours but we could have stayed for longer quite easily.
Entry – FREE for the village and playground. Family ticket to the abbey, grounds and museum is £36.90 (FREE for NT members)
Parking – There are a couple of car parks – The main one is slightly outside of the village. It is pay and display but NT members also park for free.
Toilets – a couple within the abbey grounds, also in the village itself
Food – cafe within the abbey grounds, stables cafe (NT) in the village, several pubs plus Lacock Bakery. There is also a picnic area in the village just opposite the entrance to the abbey.
Rating – 4 / 5 – It’s a fairly long drive from Aylesbury, which takes in Oxford/A34 traffic, so it’s not somewhere I’d visit regularly but it was very interesting and I would go again if it was closer.