Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

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Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
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LACOCK LACOCK ABBEY ST 9168 4/118 Lacock Abbey with Stable yard 20.12.60 GV I

Country house, mid C16 remodelling and extension of cloister court of C13 to C15 Augustinian nunnery founded 1229 and sold to Sir W. Sharington at the Dissolution 1540. Some alterations of c1700 and c1740 for Sir John Talbot and John Ivory Talbot and entrance front rebuilt as Gothick great hall 1754-5 by Sanderson Miller for J.I. Talbot. South front alterations in Tudor style 1828-30 for W.H. Fox-Talbot and c1900-10 restoration of medieval parts by H. Brakspear for C.H. Talbot. Ashlar and rubble stone with stone slate roofs generally and numerous ornate C16 twisted stacks. Mostly 2 storeys, the major part of the house on first floor only over unaltered medieval basement. The medieval basement comprises three sides of a lierne-vaulted C15 cloister with two C14 bays at south-west angle. Largely C14 spaces off. To east fine series of vaulted rooms, sacristy, chapter house and warming house, intact apart from openings on east side that are of c1900. This part was under the Dormitory. West side, under great hall, but originally under Abbess' lodging has 2 rooms and main entrance passage. North side is undercroft to refectory. In upper part of house medieval roofs survive, concealed, to north side refectory, C15 with arch braced collar trusses and 3 tiers of windbracing, and to south side dormitory, C14 with 3 tiers of cusped windbracing. Exterior: west front has 1754-5 ashlar fronted hall-to centre, full-height, with slate half-hipped valley roof. Octagonal angle turrets with ogee cupolas, delicate pierced parapet and 2 large ogee-headed windows flanking central door reached by two-arm balustraded outside stair. An important landmark of the C18 Gothic revival. To left, former medieval kitchen refronted in C18. Balustraded parapet, buttresses and two 2-light pointed windows similar to those on Bath House at Corsham Court by Capability Brown (q.v. Corsham C.P.). To right a plain parapetted range with two 15-pane C18 sashes and heavy stepped corner buttress. South front is similarly severe, being essentially the inside north wall of the Abbey church with balustrading and south-east tower added by Sharington and 3 oriels of varied sizes added 1828-30. The north-west angle of the church is marked by a heavily buttressed projection, west of this, in plain walling, another 15-pane sash. Sharington's tower possibly designed by John Chapman, octagonal, 3-storey, divided by string courses, has top belvedere, balustrade and stair turret. Finely detailed 2-light mullion windows. East front is the most medieval in outline, but C13 style Gothic ground floor windows are of 1900- 10. Adjoining tower, 2-storey range parallel to main range, the ground floor the medieval east end of chapter house and sacristy, the parapetted upper floor with 6 stone cross windows added in mid C16. To right, the main range has buttressed ground floor and, above, four C18 Gothic 4-light windows, 2 each side of fine C16 outside stack. Battlemented parapet. South end cross-wing appears largely C16 with coped gables, heraldic finials and dentil eaves cornice. Mullion-and-transom windows of flush chamfered type with unusual roundel motif on intersections. Medieval stonework to ground floor. Two-gabled C16 north extension with first floor C18 sashes and attic mullion windows. North of house is stable court, mid C16 on east and north sides, an exceptionally complete Tudor service court, notable for the large timbered gabled dormers, some with deep eaves on scroll brackets and higher cross-gabled clock- tower at west end of north range. Mullion windows, dripcourse and Tudor-arched doorways but 4 doorways in the Renaissance style of some of the interior C16 work. C19 low coach-houses and 2 early to mid C18 lodges form a screen across west side linking to an apparently late C17 addition to north of former kitchen, 2-storey, 5-window with sashes replacing cross-windows above and chamfered recessed mullion windows below. Fine timber dentil cornice. South end wall bolection moulded doorcase. From here projects a mid C18 Gothick ogee-headed carriage-arch with screen wall each side. Interiors: outstanding mid C18 Gothick work in great hall with exuberant terracotta figures by V.A. Sederbach in canopied niches and shallow tunnel vault with armorial decoration. c1740 south- west room in style of William Kent. South Gallery remodelled 1828- 30. Panelled parlour beyond of c1700-20. South-east tower has vaulted octagonal strong room with pendants to vaults and magnificent stone table attributed to J. Chapman. Similar but damaged table in belvedere. Stone gallery in east range is C16 with Renaissance style fireplace and doorcase, and Brown Gallery in north range has fine C16 windows to courtyard. Corbels of refectory roof visible. In service court a complete surviving brewery at west end of north range. W.H. Fox-Talbot 1800-77, pioneer of photography spent his life here and made his first photographic experiments here. (National Trust, Lacock Abbey, 1984; N. Pevsner, Wiltshire, 1975, 284-9; Country Life, 3, 10 and 17 March 1923; J. Summerson, Architecture in Britain 1530 to 1830, 1970, 42-5, 399-400)

Listing NGR: ST9194768469


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
National Trust Guide to Lacock Abbey, (1984)
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Wiltshire, (1975), 284-289
Summerson, J , Architecture in Britain 1530-1830, (1970), 42-45
Summerson, J , Architecture in Britain 1530-1830, (1970)
'Country Life' in 17 March, (1923)
'Country Life' in 3 March, (1923)
'Country Life' in 10 March, (1923)
Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England, Part 46 Wiltshire,


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

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