England has many idyllic villages where you can step back a few hundred years. Many visitors will be familiar with the more famous ones around Cotswold that are flooded with tourists. As beautiful as those villages may be, it is very difficult to appreciate their charm when you are constantly bumping into other people.
Today, I want to take you to a quintessential English village, where you can stroll around leisurely at your own pace and not have to share it with hundreds of other people.
Come and join me on a walk around at Lacock everyone.
Lacock is located in Wiltshire, in south west England, about 22 km away from the famous Roman spa town Bath. Most of the buildings dates back to the 18th century, and the most famous building in the village, Lacock Abbey dates back to 1232. Sadly I didn't visit Lacock Abbey as currently visitors need to pre book tickets. I don't know what I missed from not going to the Abbey, but my time spent walking around this picturesque little village was an absolute delight.
Let' start at Lacock High Street. If you're a Downton Abbey fan like me, you may like to know this is the filming location for the Royal parade to welcome the King and Queen to Downton Abbey in the 2019 film. In normal times like now, the High Street still retains its charm and beauty. Save for the cars parked ouside, one could easily feel like they've been transported back a few hundred years.
The local primary school stands in the middle of the High Street. It was built in 1824 by William Henry Fox Talbot. Photographers may be familiar with Talbot. He was a Victorian photographer and created the earliest photographic negative that still exists today. Talbot lived in Lacock till his death in 1877. When I arrived, there were some children playing in front of the school. The sound of children's laughter filled the street, it sounds so beautiful.
Apart from the many original stone structure buildings, Lacock retains something that is lost in many places in modern day society. Honesty. As I was walking down the High Street, many villagers placed products outdoors for sale. This one had some quaint bric n brac, others sold home grown fruit and veg, and another sold freshly cut flowers. Customers would take the goods they want and post the money through the letter box in the front door. The trust is placed on visitors, hopefully that is returned to the villagers.
Turn right at the end of High Street is West Street. This is one of the larger roads in the village with local buses passing by. I crossed the road from the High Street towards the World War One monument. Many little villages in England have these memorial to commemorate the local lads who went away to fight for the country and never returned. It's always very poignant to see these monument.
The George Inn is further along West Street. I think it was closed as there were no cars parked outside. Would you believe me if I told you we're in the 18th century now?
Church Street runs along side Lacock village, if you keep on walking you will leave the main village. I took a right turn down Church street by these two beautiful stone houses. More gems were awaiting me here.
This house is without a doubt my favourite one in the entire village. It's charming enough on the front, but the side was definitely something that I'd never seen before. I loved the curved wooden beam on the side, extending from just beneath the chimney, all along the edge of the roof and then slightly curves downwards on top of the white washed brick wall, tucking comfortably into the stone structure. I think it looks so elegant and is an absolute beauty.
You'll find more honesty shops in Church Street. Such as this one that sells horseshoe, and here's one for Harry Potter fans. Do you recognise this house selling Harry Potter wands?
Back to my favourite TV show Downton Abbey. They filmed in Lacock not once, but twice. In the final season, Church Street was transformed into a livestock market. If you remove all the vehicles, it's not difficult to imagine the scene, particularly with the charming bakery (it's a real one!!!) and stone houses along the road.
I'm going to show you one more building on Church Street. This is the St Cyriac's Church and is dedicated to the Norman saint St Cyriac The church dates back to the 14th century and is a Grade I listed building in England. One good thing about travelling right now is that there aren't many people around and you can take your time to enjoy the surroundings. The downside is that many places have restricted entry or are closed. It was such a shame this church was closed as I love going inside churches even though I'm not religious. Maybe another reason to come back at a later date?
And finally we turn down East Street (remember we were on West Street earlier on?), this leads back to the High Street and is the last street that forms the grid of Lacock.
The Village Hall is located here. In small villages, the church, the local pub and the village hall together probably form the center of activity. It seems like the Village Hall is still put in good use today. I was there just before lunch time and heard loud music being played inside, it sounded like some sort of fitness class. I wonder what the villagers from over 200 years ago would think about people jumping around inside in leggings and skimpy outfits!!!
The most notable building on East Street is the Tithe Barn, also a Grade I listed building from the 14th century. Tithe barns were common in northern Europe around the Middle ages and were usually attached to the local church. Tithe means one tenth of earnings, typically paid to support the local church. Back in those days, the villagers' earnings would be in the form of their agriculture output, in Lacock's case corn and fleece. The tithe would be stored in this barn.
the interior of the barn is divided into eight bays by the roof structure of raised cruck trusses with arch-braced collars, the crucks supported on dressed stone blocks. There are two purlins on each pitch, with windbraces between the lower purlins and the wallplates. The east wing has two raised cruck trusses with arch-braced collars and windbraces, and one purlin to each pitch. The wing has iron rods at tie-beam level. Some of the timbers have carpenter's marks, and some have apotropaic protection symbols. The floor of the barn is of beaten earth.
It was quite cool inside the barn as the slated roof is quite high and there was a nice breeze entering through the three ventilation openings. Despite its age, a lot of the fabric is original from the medieveal times hence its historical value and importance. However, the roof top has been restored over the years.
Do you see the blocked arch opening below the one of the ventilation opening?
The other side of the arch opening is the high street, and where we started off our walk today!
I hope you enjoyed the walking around Lacock today and managed to get a feel of what it was like in an English village a few hundred years ago.