Lacock, Wiltshire: Filming Location for Harry Potter and TV Period Dramas
Lacock, Wiltshire: The Perfect English Village
Lacock in Wiltshire is one of those breathtakingly pretty English villages that usually only exist in paintings. It's true that all over England you can find a few quaint cottages or a picturesque village green, but the beauty of Lacock is that the whole village is a delight. This is the kind of place you see in TV period dramas; actually it is the place you see in TV period dramas. The BBC discovered Lacock back in the 1980s and have been putting it on to our screens ever since. More recently, Lacock has been discovered by a new generation, since the village is now a Harry Potter film location.
What has drawn a wizard, carriages full of ladies in crinolines and countless tourists to Lacock? Join me on a quick tour of Lacock past and present to find out.
The George Inn at Lacock
Colin Firth Filming in Lacock
Pride and Prejudice at Lacock
The BBC's 1995 production of Pride and Prejudice was incredibly popular. It made a star of Colin Firth, but Lacock put in a strong supporting role as Meryton, the Bennett family's (fictional) local town. In the book, the Bennett sisters walk from their home to Meryton to visit the miliner's shop and visit their aunt. The scenes in the film showed off Lacock to fine advantage.
Jane Austen's fictitious town of Meryton was meant to be in Hertfordshire, not Wiltshire. Lacock's nearby Luckington Court was chosen to double for Longbourne, the home of the Bennett family.
Emma and Moll Flanders at Lacock
In 1996 two versions of Emma were filmed. The TV version starred Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong and was filmed partly in Lacock. The village was used as Highbury, home to the Woodhouse family.
Miramax didn't use Lacock for their version, starring Gwyneth Paltrow; they decamped to Dorset.
Lacock had to turn back the clock still further in 1996 to play host to Moll Flanders. Alex Kingston played the title role in this production, with a young Daniel Craig providing support.
Harry Potter's House in Lacock
Harry Potter Locations in Lacock
Harry Potter Films at Lacock
Lacock has featured in several of the Harry Potter movies. Mostly it is Lacock Abbey that features as Hogwarts. The cloisters and several rooms inside the ancient building play their part in creating JK Rowling's vision of the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Amongst the rooms that you might spot from Lacock Abbey are Professors McGonagall, Quirrel and Snape's classrooms. The memorable scene where Dobby turns on Lucius Malfoy and tells him that "you shall not harm Harry Potter!" is also recognisable as the cloisters from Lacock Abbey.
In addition, one of the village's houses is used as Harry's childhood home, the place where Voldemort kills Lily Potter in front of her son. According to the IMDB movie database, Harry Potter locations in Lacock include the Abbey, Church Street and the Angel Inn.
Lacock Becomes Cranford
In 2007 Lacock finally stepped out of the background and got a starring role when the BBC cast it as the town of Cranford in the TV series of the same name. Although actually set in Cheshire, Lacock looks the perfect part.
The production was based on three of Elizabeth Gaskell's novellas and starred a plethora of British acting talent, including Dames Judi Dench and Eileen Atkins, Francesca Annis, Philip Glenister and Martin Shaw.
Not just a drama, this is a gentle comedy too, with keen observations of everyday life in a provincial town on the cusp of major change. The story follows the townspeople of Cranford as their community changes with the coming of the railway. Some are able to embrace the change, whilst others cling resolutely to the past.
An instant rating success, the initial series was five episodes, with a two part Christmas special being added in 2009. The series won armfuls of awards including BAFTAs, Emmys and Golden Globes. Awards were given not just for the actors, but for the art and costume design.
The Cloisters at Lacock Abbey
The Cranford Series
More TV and Film Credits for Lacock
- Robin of Sherwood/Robin Hood 1984 TV Series
- Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) 2000 TV Series
- The Mayor of Casterbridge 2003 TV Mini Series
- The Other Boleyn Girl 2008 Film
- The Wolfman 2009 Film
Lacock Before TV and Films
Lacock was inhabited at the time of the Domesday Book, but it didn't begin to thrive until the early thirteenth century. The Countess of Salisbury founded Lacock Abbey in 1232, the village being part of the Abbey's lands. Lacock grew with the wool trade, a major medieval industry. Placed near one of only two crossings over the River Avon and granted a market licence, Lacock became a prosperous town. This prosperity is reflected in the solid stone walls of the houses that still stand in Lacock today.
When the monasteries were dissolved by Henry VIII, Lacock Abbey and the village were sold, passing eventually to the Talbot family. One of the Talbots, Charles Henry Fox Talbot, was an early pioneer of photography. There is a museum dedicated to him at the Abbey. It was his niece, Matilda Talbot, who passed the Abbey and the village to the National Trust in 1944.
The National Trust have ensured that the village retains its unspoilt appearance, which has drawn the attention not only of many tourists, but of location scouts for TV and film productions.