Lacock: The Community behind the Abbey

on Monday, 23 February 2015. Posted in Archives

Lacock is known for its famous Abbey, photography and the movies filmed there but just as important are the people who actually live, and have lived, in this wonderful village.  Lacock is not just a tourist destination but a living, thriving community which is often overlooked by visitors.  The Lacock Community Archive will provide an outlet for villagers to share their stories and memories through oral history, photographs and documents.  We will be providing a series of free events for the residents of Lacock over the forthcoming months as part of this project.    

As part of our first event we will be displaying copies of photographs of Lacock taken by Harold White from his English Villager’s collection (published 1945).  The picture below is of Reverend Jeeves (taken by Harold White), vicar of Lacock at the time.  There are, in fact, several photographs of the Rev. Jeeves which raised our interest and encouraged us to discover more about his life and how he came to be in Lacock.  Kym Wild, a postgraduate student from Bath Spa University, began researching his life.


Leonard Lambert Garnet Jeeves was born, December 1882 in Taunton, and was the youngest of five children. He studied at Corpus Christi College in Cambridge and finished his ministerial training in 1911 at Whitechapel. However, before he could take an official post he was seconded to the British army during World War One as an army chaplain between 1914-15 and again in 1917-1919. He served with the RACD Attd 55th Infantry Brigade in France and was decorated for his service.

Shortly after the war he married Beatrice Evelyn Wilson (21) and they both moved to Newfoundland, Canada where he became Sub-Dean at St. John’s, Church of England Cathedral, Newfoundland before returning to England with his family in 1930. His connection to Lacock arises when he became the vicar of St. Cyriacs, Lacock (between 1932-1949), seeing the village through the years of World War II. In 1949 he moved to Malvern in Worcestershire with a licence to officiate at services. He died on the 19th March 1956 and was survived by his wife.

Rev.Jeeves and choir

We again see Rev. Jeeves in another Harold White photograph with the church choir and choir master. Do you know who any of the members of the choir are?  

The photograph below is an example of what we are hoping to see and collect from local residents. 

Lackham Lodge

A copy of this picture has been donated to the project by one of our volunteers, Penny Gallagher, who is helping us with the oral history project. This wonderful photograph shows her great grandmother Elizabeth Spinks and her daughter Elizabeth Simmonds in front of their home at Lackham Lodge c. 1860, after they had moved to the area for work. Penny has not stopped there and has also been able to track down the other side of her family who were also connected with Lacock. She discovered that her great great grandfather, William Leavey, moved to Banks Cottages, Reybridge and then to Lacock where he most likely lived in the cottage next to the Red Lion. His daughter Emily is then listed as being the Coffee Tavern owner in the 1881 census. This picture of the Coffee Tavern was taken in 1903 but by that time the property had changed hands. We hope there will be similar collections, within the community, that will reveal more about the lives of the villagers of Lacock.lacock picF0072

We are holding our first free event at the manger barn (Lacock) on Wednesday 11th March 2pm-5pm and Thursday 12th March 6pm-9pm. This event will use photographs of the village (taken by Mark Wild, a volunteer) and Harold White photographs which will be combined with information from census and business directory records, which we hold at the History Centre, to paint a picture of who used to live in the village. Space will be allocated for residents to record their own memories which will hopefully be inspired by the collection on show. If you have any memories of Lacock or your family lived in the area then please come and join us.

I wish to also take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers and members of the Lacock community for their assistance with this project which wouldn’t be possible without them.

Matthew Goodwin

Community Archive Project Officer

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