A window into photographic history

Early photograph of William Henry Fox Talbot who owned Lacock Abbey 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 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'. He wrote:

" How charming it would be if it were possible to cause these natural images to imprint themselves durably and remain fixed upon the paper! And why should it not be possible? I asked myself."
- William Henry Fox Talbot
View of the South Gallery
View of the South Gallery at Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire
View of the South Gallery

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.

Get a closer look at the camera Fox Talbot invented at Lacock Abbey
A father showing a mousetrap camera to his daughter at Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire
Get a closer look at the camera Fox Talbot invented at Lacock Abbey

Discover the history of photography at the Fox Talbot Museum

Go back in time from iPhone to 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 man entered into a race to claim the title 'inventor of photography'.

Find out about the birth of photography in the Fox Talbot Museum
A visitor looks at the display in the Fox Talbot Museum in Lacock in Wiltshire
Find out about the birth of photography in the Fox Talbot Museum

Experience the art of photography on the upper gallery at the Fox Talbot Museum

In the Fox Talbot museum gallery on the first floor you will find changing photography exhibitions, celebrating Talbot's legacy by showing photography as an art form.