Monday, August 08, 2011

Lacock Abbey and the Fox Talbot Museum

The front entrance to Lacock Abbey Manor House.
Lacock Abbey was started by a woman in memory of her husband, taken over by the Henry VIII and sold to the highest bidder.  Fortunately, the new owner did not tear it down, although he did a little remodeling. The house was given to the Trust in the 1960's, but a family member still lived in part of it until just recently.  The cloisters are still in remarkably good condition.  Several of the Harry Potter films were shot here. 
The cloisters are in wonderful condition.  You might recognize this from Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone.

One of the chapels in the Cloisters.  An interesting item, there were never very many nuns, most of the time only 15-20.  They took in boarders, mainly widows or women whose husbands had gone to war, to make ends meet.

This huge cooking pot was made in Belguim in 1500 for the nuns at the Abbey.

The owners were the Talbot's, one of there offspring, several generations down, being Fox Talbot.  He is considered one of the founding fathers of photography.  Educated at Oxford, he was concerned that his horticulture sketches were not good enough to show the items.  So he went about finding another way to reproduce them.  Knowing chemistry, he started experimenting with coating papers to make prints, using the sun.  He used a small camera type box, that his wife christened, Mousetraps.  Talbot didn't take his photography to as great of lengths as Dageurre with his silver coated copper plates, but his use of coated paper was a start which others built on.

The window that was in the first photograph taken by Fox Talbot.  Bill even photographed in black and white for the occasion.

Also in the museum was a special exhibit of the photography of George Bernard Shaw.  Shaw thought that photography should be considered an art form not just a means of preserving a scene.  His photos were interesting, as well as some of his subjects being well known, such as HG Wells.

Some of the village of Lacock.  An odd thing, several houses had different things for sale on their front door stoop, with a sign telling the price and then a request to put the money through the letterbox.  I bought 2 zucchinis for 20p each.

The village of Lacock is part of the manor, originally being owned and supported by Lacock Abbey, then the new owners, the Talbots.  The people who worked the lands and in the manor house, rented the buildings and homes in the village.  The Talbots were good landlords, selling off things they owned so repairs could be made to the cottages.  Even though many things were sold, such as the tapestry collection and some books, the Manor library is still one of the best collection of old books in the Trust.
Ceiling detail from inside the Cloisters.

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