125 Treasures at Lacock Abbey

A black and white photo of Ham House

There are so many treasures at Lacock Abbey. Find out about just three of them.

The invention that launched photography

The first half of the nineteenth century was a time of great scientific innovation. One of puzzles that most fascinated academics and scientists was whether it was possible to create an image, other than by the traditional methods of drawing and painting.  

William Henry Fox Talbot, a polymath who owned and lived at Lacock Abbey, created the earliest surviving photgraphic negative here in 1835. He refined and perfected a process of photographic reproduction known as a calotype, which was sufficiently accessible for enthusiastic amateurs to follow in his footsteps and establish photography as an engaging hobby for anyone.

We don't know who took this calotype of Ham House in Surrey (above) in the mid-nineteenth century, but it is due to Fox Talbot's genius that photography developed into the worldwide industry it is today.

At Lacock Abbey, you can discover more about the life and work of this extraordinary man, as well as the race to be the first to claim the title 'inventor of photography'.

125 treasures

Celebrating 125 treasures in our collections 

From artistic masterpieces and vast tapestries to precious personal possessions, the range and breadth of the collections in our care is astonishing. A new book – 125 Treasures from the Collections of the National Trust – shares the stories behind remarkable objects from our collections.