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Lacock Abbey and Village stars on-screen

Row of cottages in the village at Lacock, Wiltshire
Houses in Lacock village | © National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

Lacock is no stranger to the screen – a fitting new role for the birthplace of modern photography. The Abbey’s cloisters give focus to medieval and fantasy dramas, while the Wiltshire village’s timber-framed houses lend themselves to authentic street scenes. Both have starred in a variety of film and television productions, hosting everything from prizewinning pigs to a Tudor tennis match.

Downton comes to Wiltshire

Lacock village has starred twice in Downton Abbey.

In February 2015, the crew transformed Church Street into a 1920s livestock show. Sheep, pigs and a 1-tonne longhorn bull joined the cast, as well as many extras, creating a bustling market scene attended by Lord Grantham, his family and many of the staff.

Original timber-framed cottages line the streets of the village, which is in our care, making it a perfect filming location as the view is free from satellite dishes and overhead cabling.

One volunteer at Lacock Abbey was astonished by the amount of detail in the production. ‘I was cast as a farmer and they even went as far as applying dirt to the back of my hands, as I had supposedly been working in the fields,’ he recalled.

Characters in Downton Abbey look at cows in a pen in a village street scene
Lacock Village sets the scene for the livestock show in Series 6 of Downton Abbey | © Carnival Film & Television

The first Downton film

In September 2018 the crew were back to shoot scenes for the much-anticipated first Downton Abbey movie.

The film focused on a visit by the King and Queen to the Downton estate. Lacock's streets set the scene for a royal parade through the village, which featured 350 extras – including some of Lacock’s own villagers – 80 soldiers on horseback and a royal carriage.

The Hollow Crown at Lacock

BBC Two’s series based on Shakespeare’s history plays came to Lacock twice for filming. In January 2012, scenes from the first series (which told the stories of Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V) were filmed at the Abbey.

For within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court...

– Richard II, Act III Scene ii

In November 2014, BBC Two returned to film the concluding part of their award-winning series, covering Henry VI Part I and II and Richard III and focusing on the Wars of the Roses. The series starred Benedict Cumberbatch, Dame Judi Dench, Sophie Okonedo and Hugh Bonneville.

One of the joys of the job was an extraordinary heritage tour of Great Britain. It was a real honour for all of us to have access to these incredible parts of our history.

A quote by Benedict Cumberbatch Actor playing Richard III

Tudor tennis

Many scenes filmed at Lacock feature the Abbey’s iconic medieval Cloister, which dates to around 1450, including a tennis match in the Cloister Garth.

The Garth is a fragile space, so with a tennis ball flying around Lacock Abbey staff were on tenterhooks in case anything went wrong. Fortunately the production team were so used to working in historic environments there was no need to worry.

Costumes for The Hollow Crown

Costumes created by Sands Films – whose many credits include Les Misérables, Poldark and Sweeney Todd – featured in a 2016 exhibition in Lacock Abbey’s Great Hall.

One of the costumes on display was worn by Samuel West as the Bishop of Winchester, during scenes filmed in the Cloister in 2014. It was possibly the first time a ‘bishop’ had walked into the Abbey Cloister since the dissolution of the monasteries 500 years before.

Closeup of a TV costume Tudor dress, showing blue and white fabric with gold embroidery detailing
A dress created by Sands Films for Mariah Gale, who played Lady Bona in The Hollow Crown (BBC) | © National Trust/Alana Wright

Wolf Hall

Lacock Abbey stood in for Wolf Hall, the seat of the Seymour family, in the BBC’s adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Booker prize winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.

The Wolf Hall team also filmed down the road from Lacock at Great Chalfield Manor and Garden, which starred as Austen Friars, the home of Thomas Cromwell, the central character of the series.

Harry Potter at Lacock

Lacock Abbey has stood in as parts of Hogwarts for two Harry Potter films, and more recently featured in Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald in 2017.

Other ways to see Lacock on-screen

Keep a lookout for Lacock in some of these productions:

  • His Dark Materials (BBC series 2019)
  • Dr Thorne (ITV series 2016)
  • Galavant (ABC series, 2015–16)
  • Cranford (BBC series, 2007–10)
  • The Other Boleyn Girl (2008 film)
  • Pride and Prejudice (BBC series, 1995)

Supporting special places

As well as showing off beautiful locations, filming directly benefits the places in our care that star in the production. The income from location fees goes straight back into conservation work to care for historic houses and landscapes, so that we’ll all be able to see them both on screen and in real life for years to come.

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