Lacock: An 18th-Century Village
From Bath, take the A4 about 19km (12 miles) to the A350, and then head south to Lacock, a National Trust village showcasing English architecture from the 13th through the 18th centuries.
Unlike many villages that disappeared or were absorbed into bigger communities, Lacock remained largely unchanged because of a single family, the Talbots, who owned most of it and preferred to keep their traditional village traditional. Turned over to the National Trust in 1944, it's now one of the best-preserved villages in all of England, with many 16th-century homes, gardens, and churches. Notable is St. Cyriac Church, Church Street, a Perpendicular-style church built by wealthy wool merchants between the 14th and 17th centuries.
Lacock Abbey, High Street (tel. 01249/730459; www.nationaltrust.org.uk), founded in 1232 for Augustinian canonesses, was updated and turned into a private home in the 16th century. It fell victim to Henry VIII's Dissolution, when, upon establishing the Church of England, he seized existing church properties to bolster his own wealth. Admission for all church properties is £10 for adults and £5 for children; a family ticket costs £26. It is open from the end of March to October, Monday and Wednesday to Sunday from 1 to 5:30pm. It is closed Good Friday.
While on the grounds, stop by the medieval barn, home to the Fox Talbot Museum (tel. 01249/730459). Here, William Henry Fox Talbot carried out his early experiments with photography, making the first known photographic prints in 1833. In his honor, the barn is now a photography museum featuring some of those early prints. Daily hours are March to October 11am to 5:30pm; November to February, it is open Saturday and Sunday only 11am to 4pm. Admission is included in the Lacock Abbey fee; admission to the museum only is £6 adults, £3 children; family ticket £15.
This village was once voted England's prettiest village. The financially disastrous Dr. Doolittle was filmed here in 1967, and the 15th-century Upper Manor House, used as Rex Harrison's residence in the movie, is its most famous site. Consisting of one street lined with cottages (known simply as "the Street"), it is the quintessential West Country village, easily explored in its entirety during a morning or afternoon, before moving on to your next destination. Located 16km (10 miles) northeast of Bath, Castle Combe is reached by taking the A46 north 9.5km (6 miles) to the A420, then heading east to Ford, and following the signs north to Castle Combe. From Lacock, take the A350 north to Chippenham; then get on the A420 west and follow the signs.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.