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Visiting the garden at Lacock Abbey

A view through woodland trees towards the Sphinx Lawn at Lacock, it is foggy and the Sphinx pillar can be seen in the background
View of the abbey from across the East Terrace in autumn | © Mark Bolton

There have been gardens at Lacock Abbey for nearly 900 years. Each new owner has refashioned the grounds, from the herb and vegetable gardens that supplied medieval nuns to the pleasure grounds of a fashionable 18th-century gentleman. Now the grounds are a place for you to relax and be immersed in the scents, sounds and colours of nature.

Botanic Garden

The nuns of Lacock Abbey would have grown herbs for medicinal as well as culinary purposes. Centuries later, William Henry Fox Talbot built the greenhouses in the Botanic Garden. During autumn the swamp cyprus, or taxodium, planted by Talbot turns a beautiful red-brown colour before dropping its leaves.

A view looking down Lacock's greenhouse in summer, there are vines growing along the ceiling and sunlight shining through the glass panes.
Fox Talbot's greenhouse in summer | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Woodland Garden

The romantic Woodland Garden is at its best in the spring before the leaf canopy of the trees blocks out the light to spring bulbs and flowers. You’ll find snowdrops, aconites, anemones, daffodils, snakeshead fritillaries and one of the best displays of Crocus vernus in the country. Autumn colour is dotted around with bright yellows from the gingko and wingnut, and shiny copper leaves of the sweet chestnut.

The Orchard

This peaceful spot with its mix of old and new apple trees is a haven for wild flowers in the spring. Choose your spot for a picnic, lie back and listen to the bees.

The Rose Garden

Lady Elizabeth’s Rose Garden is planted with varieties she would have known, such as the ramblers 'Alberic Barbier' and 'François Juranville', and shrub roses 'Alba Maxima', 'Maiden's Blush', 'Penelope' and 'Jacques Cartier'.

Two friends walk with pushchairs through the woodland at Lacock. They are dressed warmly and walk in front of a tree covered in golden yellow leaves.
Friends walking in the woodland at Lacock Abbey during autumn | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

The Rockworks

Where the Woodland Walk meets the Bide Brook you’ll find the Rockworks, an 18th-century conceit. The structure was built to look like the ruin of a Roman or Greek building, faced with limestone intended to look like volcanic tufa.

Abbey borders

The hot south-facing walls of the Abbey are the perfect home for plants from Mediterranean climates, many of which have aromatic foliage, such as lavender, santolina, artemisia, rosemary, thyme, southernwood, Russian sage and myrtle.

When the cloister is open for the season, walk through to the damp north-facing wall where you will find a collection of ferns with their fine foliage.

The Parkland

Stroll through the mown paths of the Parkland, which in the 18th century was part of a fantastic water garden with wide paths and views to and from the Abbey. Only the pond remains. Today the Parkland celebrates Fox Talbot's interest in astronomy with paths and clearings cut to resemble the solar system. In spring make your way through yellow sea of buttercups, giving way to the long grasses of summer, and find the sun sculpture in the centre. During autumn and winter the Parkland can get waterlogged, so it is usually shut to visitors at this time.

What's that plant?

If you spot a plant during your visit that you don't recognise, our garden team are happy to help. Why not send us an email at lacockabbey@nationaltrust.org.uk?

Be sure to describe where you saw it, what it looked like and include a photo if you can and we will let you know what it is.

Row of cottages in the village at Lacock, Wiltshire

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