Lacock Interpretation Days
We held two interpretation days for the village of Lacock to explore the village on a deeper level beyond that of the Abbey and tearooms.
The interpretation day began in the Wiltshire and Swindon Archives where participants looked at the central part of the village from medieval times and especially concentrated on documents from the 17th to 19th centuries – many of these were part of the Lacock Unlocked project. One lady found her family cottage on an estate map of 1684 – the occupant was her ancestor; another lady found her farmhouse on a schedule for 1804, again the occupier was an ancestor. Outside the village it’s little known that several local families have been in the parish for many generations. The site of the Saxon church and village, the manor house that preceded the abbey, the ages of the two river bridges, the unusual rectangular pattern of streets, and the possibility of burgage plots were all discussed and considered.
In the afternoon the National Trust allowed us to meet in the Manger Barn and to visit their holiday cottage, 2 High Street, where the trees used in the cruck construction were felled in the spring of 1445, by dendrochronological dating. Members of the Lacock History Group provided a tour of the village and explained some of the buildings. The Lady Chapel in the church of St. Cyriac (an unusual Norman dedication also found at Swaffham Priors in Cambridgeshire and South Pool in Devon) attracted great interest with the great Sharington monument and some unusual carvings.
Cantax House, c.1700, allowed us to reflect on the will and inventory of one of the Colbourne family of clothiers who had built it; another member of the family had lived in a 15th century hall house across the road, his will and inventory had also been examined in the morning. The market cross is outside the village school – at least the third site it’s occupied. The market began in Church Street, before the church, but by the 18th century it had moved to the High Street and cross was re-erected in the road near the Red Lion, being moved to its present site when traffic increased. In the morning we’d noted that on the 1764 map Church Street was described as ‘Old Market’ and High Street as ‘New Market’; a good example of how the morning’s research was mirrored by observations in the afternoon.