With its central grid of four streets, Lacock today looks much like it did 200 years ago. It's oldest house is older than the thirteenth century abbey but since the loss of the village's main source of income from wool in the nineteenth century, new development has been minimal.
The name Lacock dates from Saxon times when the earliest permanent settlers lived by the Bide Brook, which runs through the middle of the village. They called it lacuc or 'little stream'.
The medieval landscape was dominated by Melksham Forest , which came right up to the village and stretched for 33 miles to the south and east. Settlement began around the church, reflected in the irregular line of Church Street, but the rest is a medieval planned town, deliberately laid out on a grid of the other streets which can be seen today.
A quintessential English village
There's lots to discover in Lacock village; quaint traditional stone cottages, the old workhouse, the medieval tithe barn, the old lock-up and the village church.
Top tip: Start your trip to Lacock with a pause at the window of the old shop at 2 High Street. In the late 19th-century the building was used as a coffee tavern, then after the First World War it became a stationers and in 1966, incorporated the Post Office. It remained in the same family until it closed in the early 1980’s. Miss Butler, the last resident, arranged the shop window in the style of early twentieth century displays and it has been untouched ever since.
In the footsteps of the stars
Lacock village is a firm favourite for film and TV producers, most notably for its picturesque streets and historic cottages, untouched by modern alterations. The village’s most famous appearances include 'Downton Abbey', the BBC’s 'Pride and Prejudice' and 'Cranford', and the films 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' and 'Wolfman'.
Village leaflets, books and maps are available at the National Trust shops both on the High Street and in Visitor Reception to help guide you around.