History of Lacock
Centred around a grid of four streets Lacock has changed little in the past 200 years. The name Lacock has its origins in Saxon times when settlers living by the Bide Brook named it Lacuc to ‘Little Stream’. Lacock was recorded in the Domesday Book as belonging to Edward Of Salisbury, Sheriff of Wiltshire, an ancestor of Ela who founded the Abbey. In medieval times Melksham Forest surrounded the village and King John’s Hunting Lodge, next to the church was where King John (1167 – 1216), Lord of the Manor of Melksham, frequently stayed during hime hunting trips.
After the Abbey was built, rights of Lacock village passed over to the nuns with most local inhabitants being ‘Villeins’ – poor tenants who paid their rent by working on the Abbey farm or in corn or fleeces. Rents collected were kept in the 12th century Tithe Barn, which still stands today and was once part of the Abbey.
Lacock was conveniently places on the ‘Cloth Rd’ between London and the west country. The Abbey was a large cloth producer and a weekly market, organised by Ela of the Abbey, was held from 1242 and also a week-long annual fair was held from the 1250’s. The Abbey kept a flock of up to 2000 sheep and the abbey tenants were responsible for their care, shearing and the washing of the wool.
Lacock prospered throughout the 1500’s and 1600’s and after Melksham forest was sold and destroyed, roads and access to Lacock improved. Lacock has many Tudor and Jacobean houses along west street but the 18th century saw the introduction of red brick being used in the village. An example being the Red Lion pub which was rebuilt in 1722 but only used red bricks for the front as bricks were too expensive to use for the whole building.
Lacock has 4 pubs but in 1620 there were 7 which is amazing for such a small village. The George in West Street holds one of the longest continuous licenses in thew west country, supposedly first being licensed in 1361! Its open fire retains the wheel of a 17th century turnspit which was used for roasting and was powered by a dog! An 18th century blind-house (lock up) still exists next to the Tithe Barn, where drunkards were kept to sober up for the night.
From the early 19th century the industrial revolution brought problems to the village as handlooms were quickly replaced by mechanical looms in large factories and after William Henry Fox Talbot rejected an offer by Isambard Kingdom Brunely to have the Chippenham to Weymouth Railway extended to within a mile of the village, development of the village stopped, explaining why little has change in Lacock to this day.
Lacock Church dates back to the norman period of the 12th century but was largely rebuilt at a time of prosperity in the village, the 1450’s. Its norman roots explain why the church is dedicated to Cyriac, a saint little known in England but well respected in the churches of Normandy. The church has lots of stone carvings, both inside and out . Angels looks down from the ceiling of the Lady Chapel and the exterior includes some fantastic gargoyles. Later additions to the church include the 16th century spire, the remodelling of the chancel in 1777 and 1903 and the rising of the transept arches to their current height in 1861.
Why not visit Lacock and other pretty Cotswold villages on one of our driver-guide or cycling Tours of the Cotswolds?
More information at
For a tour that visits Lacock
South Cotswolds Tour-http://www.cotswoldsadventures.co.uk/package/castle-combe-lacock-chauffeur/
Gloucestershire, GL5 4GA
Phone : +44 1453 790725