Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire was the residence of Henry Fox Talbot who invented photography there in the 1830s. He lived at Lacock for most of his 77 years, the squire of an extensive mansion, surrounding farmland and the medieval village of Lacock. It’s all owned by the National Trust now and can be visited through most of the year.
Lacock and the abbey go far back in time. The village was mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and in 1232 the abbey was established as a nunnery. The abbey prospered until the Protestant Reformation in the 1530s when Henry VIII dissolved the monastries and confiscated Catholic property. Lacock was sold to an ancestor of Henry Talbot and was in the family’s hands until 1944. The last Talbots left only in 2010, a family tenancy of 471 years.
The Talbot mansion was built over the top of the abbey cloisters (see below) and later a large Tudor court was added over time. The medieval cloisters and their adjoining rooms are themselves noteworthy being one of the most intact in England. Harry Potter and other films have taken advantage of this.
Talbot made many of his photographs at the abbey, testing and improving the invention that became the basis of almost all photography for the next 160 years. You can look around here and ponder the thought that he created your medium of photography right here in this place where you are standing.
Henry Fox Talbot, the tower at Lacock Abbey, 1840s
Colour photographs by Greg Neville, 2016