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.

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:

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