Fox Talbot Museum

A visitor looks at the display in the Fox Talbot Museum in Lacock in Wiltshire

One man’s ambition changed the way we would see the world, forever. William Henry Fox Talbot, polymath and pioneer of Victorian photography moved to Lacock Abbey in 1827 and created the earliest surviving photographic negative in 1835, taken of a small window in the abbey's South Gallery.

For us today it seems normal to take photos of the world around us. We use a camera or phone almost daily, snapping pictures of friends and family, beautiful landscapes, even the food we eat.

Who would guess that all this started at Lacock Abbey in 1835 - then the home to William Henry Fox Talbot, Victorian polymath. Frustrated by his inability to paint and draw, he wanted to find a way to 'fix images'.

After some experiments Talbot took an image of a window at his home Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire in 1835. This image, not much bigger than a stamp, is now celebrated as the world’s earliest surviving photographic negative.

An early photograph of William Henry Fox Talbot
Early photograph of William Henry Fox Talbot who owned Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire
An early photograph of William Henry Fox Talbot

The Fox Talbot Museum and gallery at Lacock

The Fox Talbot Museum opened in 1975 in a sixteenth century barn once used as stables. One of the museum's main aims is to tell the story of the birth of photography with objects and technology from the early years of photography, including the Fenton Collection, along with changing photographic exhibitions in the upstairs gallery.

Through the museum, go back in time to see Fox Talbot's mousetrap camera and discover how photography came to be. Learn about the history of photography, the chemistry behind Talbot's process and find out how two men entered into a race to claim the title 'inventor of photography'.

The gallery at the Fox Talbot Museum, Lacock
The gallery at the Fox Talbot Museum, Lacock
The gallery at the Fox Talbot Museum, Lacock