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  • Joanne Herd

The Lovely Cotswold Village of Lacock England

Updated December 6, 2023

If you've ever wanted to step into a living postcard of English history and charm, then Lacock is your ticket.

Nestled in the verdant English countryside, this village is a timeless snapshot of the south west Cotswolds, complete with quaint streets and historic architecture.

So if you're plotting your next England travel itinerary, put the kettle on and read on. We're diving deep into this Cotswolds classic.

A Brief History of Lacock England

To truly appreciate the splendor of Lacock Village, one must tip their hat to its rich history. Founded around the early 13th century, the cornerstone (both figuratively and literally) of the village is Lacock Abbey.

It started as an Augustinian abbey, and during the Tudor period was turned into a family home. It's even the place where, in 1835, the first photographic negative was captured by William Henry Fox Talbot.

Today the main building is a museum, and has also served as a filming location for Harry Potter and Downton Abbey.

So yes, if walls could talk, these would narrate an epic saga.

What Makes Lacock Special?

A view of the stone steps at the front of Lacock Abbey, with a blooming magnolia tree next to them. Above the medieval door is a window shaped like an 8-pointed flower.
The front steps of Lacock Abbey

Lacock is so quaint and unchanged, you won't be able to resist the allure of this village.

Take a stroll and you'll feel like you've stumbled onto a movie set. But don't let that distract you; the real-life Lacock is a star all by itself, well worth the spotlight for its unspoiled English charisma.

The Abbey and gardens are beautiful, and the village itself is well worth taking some time to explore. Pop into a shop, have a pint in a pub, and you'll feel like you've traveled back in time.

While you're exploring Lacock Abbey and Lacock Village, see if you can spot some familiar locations from your favorite Harry Potter film.

A photo of the house that served as James and Lilly Potter's house in the first Harry Potter movie. The front door is blue, with vines growing over the entry and shrubs planted along the walkway leading to the front door.
James and Lilly Potter's house in Lacock

The village stood in for Budleigh Babberton in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, and it's also the location for Horace Slughorn's house, James and Lilly Potter's house, and several street scenes.

Lacock Abbey was used extensively as a filming location for the first Harry Potter movie (US audiences know it as the Sorcerers Stone, in the United Kingdom it's known as the Philosophers Stone), and is a must-visit for any Harry Potter fan.

You can find Harry Potter locations like the Snape's Potions classroom and the Chapter House, which Harry Potter fans will recognize as the room the Mirror of Erised was found in. The Lacock Abbey cloister corridors were also used extensively in the first two Harry Potter movies as well as in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

As you walk through town you may recognize locations from Downton Abbey, which filmed in the village twice, and Pride and Prejudice.

How to Get to Lacock

Heading out to visit Lacock? The village is just a two-hour drive from London.

The village is also well-connected to nearby cities like Bath, making it a convenient day trip and easy to combine with Castle Combe if you’re exploring the region.

The easiest way to get there is by renting a car or arranging for a driver to take you on a day trip.

Must-Visit Spots in Lacock Village

A small bakery in Lacock Village England. A sign over the door says "Lacock Bakery", with a chalkboard outside listing some of what's available. The words "bakery" are in the small window panes in a script font.
A small bakery in Lacock Village

First up on your Lacock bucket list should be the Lacock Abbey, founded in the 13th century and brimming with both architectural and historical intrigue.

The 14th century Tithe Barn, another age-old spectacle, showcases the engineering prowess of our ancestors with its beautiful, intricately beamed cruck-framed roof.

Make sure to visit the Fox Talbot Museum, dedicated to William Henry Fox Talbot, a pioneer in the field of photography and the man who captured the first photographic negative. Visiting this museum might just inspire you to see the world (and your Instagram feed) through a different lens.

A photo of the stone church of St. Cyriac in Lacock Village, England. The church is a gold Cotswold stone, with a short bell tower and tall spire on top.
St Cyriac's church in Lacock England

The spire of St Cyriac's church towers over the village and the church itself is worth a visit. The oldest parts of this lovely church have been standing since the 14th century. The beautiful stained glass windows are much newer, installed in the early 20th century.

Both Lacock Abbey and the town are managed by the National Trust, so if you have a membership you can enter the Abbey for free. Residents of the United States can join the Royal Oak Foundation, which is for American supporters of the National Trust and allows free access to National Trust sites as well.

Where to Eat and Drink

A photo of the red-brick front of The Red Lion, a historic pub in Lacock Village, England
The Red Lion in Lacock Village

Hungry after your travels through Lacock? Well, if your appetite is as keen as your interest in history, you're in for a treat. For the ale aficionados among us, The George Inn offers a robust selection, with a side of olde-world ambiance.

If it's a traditional English fare you're after, The Red Lion won't disappoint. It's the kind of place where one could easily picture Tolkien and Lewis having a tête-à-tête over scones and clotted cream.

Then, of course, there are quaint cafés, like King Johns Hunting Lodge, that serve up a delightful array of teas, scones and sandwiches. Consider one of them as your refueling station before you venture out to explore more of what Lacock has to offer.

The bottom line

Go ahead and scribble Lacock down on your “must-visit” list for your next England travel adventure. With its cobblestone streets and ancient architecture, your sense of history (and your Instagram feed) will thank you.

Want to explore more of the Cotswolds? Discover our other Cotswold travel guides.


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