• North Wilts Community Club
  • Pageant Procession on horse back 1932
  • Harold White horses Stretched
  • Lacock Abbey
  • Church Street 1903
  • North Wilts Community Club visiting Lacock Abbey in June 2015.
  • Horseback procession at the Lacock Pageant 1932
  • Bill Gillett leading horses through High Street. (Photograph by Harold White)
  • Lacock Abbey
  • Church Street in 1903.

A brief history of Lacock Abbey

on Wednesday, 24 June 2015. Posted in Abbey

Lacock Abbey was founded in 1232 by Ela, Countess of Salisbury. There had previously been a manor and small village of Lacock: the Domesday survey of 1086 mentions a settlement in Lacock of a similar size to that of neighbouring Lackham.

Lacock Abbey from Wikipedia

The Abbey continued to be a religious house, accommodating Augustinian nuns, until it was suppressed by Henry VIII in 1539. It was then purchased from the Crown by Sir William Sharington, who set about transforming the abbey into a family home.

The abbey and estate passed eventually to the descendants of William Sharington's brother Sir Henry Sharington, whose daughter Olive inherited Lacock and various other estates; her grandson Sharington Talbot inherited those estates on her death in 1646. Thereafter, the Lacock estate was owned by the same family until 1944.

Very few changes were made to the abbey itself until the middle of the 18th century, when John Ivory Talbot decided to rebuild the front of the abbey in a gothic style and altered the Great Hall. Most of that work still survives today and is interesting to see alongside the older nunnery parts of the abbey.

The abbey was presented to the National Trust by Matilda Theresa Talbot in 1944, and has remained in the Trust's ownership ever since. The National Trust also own the village of Lacock, but most of the tenant farms were sold by Miss Talbot to the farmers when she gave the rest of the estate to the Trust.

A Dispute Concerning Trees on Bewley Common

on Monday, 13 April 2015. Posted in Lackham

In the autumn of 1706, James Montagu of Lackham sent his workmen to cut down some trees on Bewley Common, an area of land that abutted both Lackham and Lacock Manors. This commonplace country activity elicited a furious reaction from his neighbour, Sir John Talbot, the Lord of Lacock. Talbot disputed Montagu's right to fell the timber and retaliated by ordering his men to cut down all the remaining trees and remove the timber for his own use. Both parties insisted that they alone had the rights to the timber in accordance with established practice and ancient agreements, and the dispute rapidly escalated over the ensuing months.

IMG 7015

Magna Carta: charter of liberties

on Wednesday, 22 July 2015. Posted in Abbey

Magna Carta: Words resounding in Great Britain and the world as symbols of liberty, justice and law. An 800 year old document preciously protected and revered, given pride of place in new exhibitions, taught in every school and used in political speeches but also studied by historians discovering exiting new facts about it.

Magna Carta 1
As you stand in front of this parchment, it is a powerful tangible contact with a moment in history when an English king accepted to seal a list of demands made by his barons, taking away for the first time some of his royal power and obliging him to respect these clauses.

However this charter could have been completely forgotten had it not been thanks to a few fortuitous circumstances...So let us go back in time:

St Cyriac's Church chancel: what did this have to do with photography?

on Saturday, 19 September 2015. Posted in Lacock Village

One of the most prominent landmarks in the village of Lacock (aside from the abundance of pubs!) is St Cyriac’s (Church of England) Church: a picturesque little church, with a reasonably tall steeple, whose origins go as far back to Norman and even Saxon times.    Its six bells may be heard most Sundays, at bell ringing practice Monday nights, and before Midnight Mass every Christmas and at weddings and other special occasions.  The building is mostly devoid of stained glass windows creating a light and airy ambience.  Much has been reported in the local, national and international press about the sale of its famous Chalice. Tourists come daily to photograph this pretty little church, which is an historic Grade I listed building. But how much is known about the connection of its chancel with photography?



The Cloth Industry in Lacock

on Thursday, 25 June 2015. Posted in Lacock Village

Early in Lacock’s history, the village was a flourishing town mainly due to its proximity to the London to Bath road; until the 17th century, Reybridge was the only bridge across the River Avon in the area, so Lacock was bound to be a thriving town. It became known for its wool and cloth in the 13th and 14th centuries, and this continued past the dissolution. In the 13th century also, there were some pottery and tile kilns at Naish Hill which provided floor tiles and pots for the abbey. By the 18th century, there were tanning pits near the Packhorse Bridge and the Tanyard only closed in 1928; as well as tanning and the older industries of spinning and weaving, many Lacock residents were chair-makers, and the farming community was also thriving.

The East India Company

on Monday, 03 August 2015. Posted in Beyond Wiltshire

The Lacock Archives contains a huge amount of information concerning The East India Company due to the involvement of Henry Davenport who was based at Fort St. George with the Company.  Various documents, letters, journals and bills record his involvement in the East India Company concerning diamonds, pirates and treason.

Coat of Arms for The East India Company

The East India Company was founded to explore trade with India and South-East Asia.  In 1600 the Company received a Royal charter from Queen Elizabeth I awarding it a monopoly on trade between the Cape of Good Hope and the Straits of Magellan.  During this period of time the East India Company was in constant competition with the Portuguese and Dutch Trading Companies.  This often led to conflict between the rival trade companies such as the naval Battle of Swally in 1612 where the East India Company defeated the Portuguese.

The Lacock Pageant

on Tuesday, 14 July 2015. Posted in Abbey

The Lacock Pageant was first held in 1932 to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the laying of the first stone of Lacock Abbey.  The pageant was intended to recreate a day in the life of a Medieval community with Ela, Countess of Salisbury (founder of the Abbey) who was played by Matilda Talbot, nuns, knights and craftsmen all represented. 

Ale wives issuing ale in ivory horns

The manor of Lackham

on Friday, 08 May 2015. Posted in Lackham

The estate of Lackham is situated adjacent to the Lacock estate, on the bank of the river Avon.

At the time of Domesday the manor was held by William d'Eu, the son of the Count d'Eu. He vanished from records towards the end of the 11th century when it appears he rebelled for a second time.

1764 map close up of Lackham House

The Shropshire Connection

on Tuesday, 04 August 2015. Posted in Beyond Wiltshire

The Lacock Estate spreads beyond the boundaries of Wiltshire and can be discovered far to the north in the county of Shropshire.  Like many great estates this was due to the marriage of different families.  The Davenport family owned various lands in Shropshire, including the manor of Worfield (north of Bridgnorth), due to the marriage of William Davenport and Jane Bromley.  The manor in Worfield was eventually passed to their eldest son, Henry Davenport.  Henry Davenport built Davenport house at Worfield in 1726 which was designed by the architect, Francis Smith of Warwick.

Davenport House

Henry Davenport's son William by his second wife, Barbara Ivory, inherited the Lacock estate which meant that many of the deeds of Shropshire properties became part of the Lacock collection. Later Shropshire deeds would have been retained by Sharington Davenport and passed down through that line of the family.