With crooked houses and thatched cottages, Lacock is the quintessential Cotswolds village.
While these villages are all over the Cotswolds, some bigger and more popular than others, Lacock has another thing going for it that draws visitors – Harry Potter! The village has been used filming for the first film and also in for film number 6. So any fan of the books can have a wander and spot the locations!
When we visited last Christmas it was decked out in some wonderful decorations which gave it a quite different feel to how it is in summer I imagine. It also meant some things were shut in the village too – one to watch out for if you come in the winter.
So would you like to experience the old English village of Lacock too? Read on for things to do in Lacock, how to get there and where to park if you drive in.
Where is Lacock?
First things first, let’s take a look at where Lacock actually is in England as if you’re not familiar with this area just saying ‘the Cotswolds’ probably doesn’t help!
Lacock is in the county of Wiltshire which is the southern most part of what’s considered the Cotswolds. While considered in the South West of England it’s not quite in the corner and still easily reached from London, Bristol or Bath.
Things to do in Lacock
Explore the village
Ok, this one sounds a little, erm, obvious! But the village is the main attraction and checking out the higgledy piggledy houses is part of the fun and probably why you came.
The village of Lacock isn’t huge so wandering around won’t take you too long if you don’t want to. It’s fairly flat as well which makes it an early accessible place for those who might have mobility issues.
While incredibly pretty do be aware that if you’re coming to get amazing photos you’ll find that there are A LOT of cars parked in the village and in front of the beautiful houses which can spoil that aspect a little. There’s nothing to be done about it except get creative with your angles!
While traffic is mostly diverted outside the village there are still a lot of cars driving through so do be careful.
Buy something local from the bakery or shops
There are a number of different gift shops, a local delicatessen and a bakery too so you shouldn’t be short of things to buy here. You can pick up all sorts of souvenirs from local artists or just a snack!
When we were there over Christmas some of the shops were closed so if you’re here out of season be aware. I was hoping to get a tasty morsel from the bakery but will have to return!
Although lots of places were shut we saw quite a few doorsteps with things to buy. Some had little Harry Potter trinkets and souvenirs and another had some rocky road treats and dog treats! All operated on an honesty box system where you put the money through the letterbox. I had the rocky road and it was delicious!
Have a drink in one of the traditional village pubs
There are a couple of village pubs where you can settle yourself down for a bit and allow yourself to be fed a wonderful meal or just have a good old English pint.
As you arrive in the village, as you’re walking from the car park you’ll see the Red Lion which has a good sized beer garden area for kids to let off steam in.
Further round the village you’ll see the George Inn which dates back to the 14th century and nestled amongst some of the other crooked houses in the centre you’ll find the Sign of the Angel pub and hotel which looks spectacular with it’s Tudor style timber frame.
Discover Lacock Abbey
The Abbey is a National Trust location so as we’re members it was free for us to explore the Abbey and the museum (see below). Another time when I was grateful for the NT membership – if you’re on the fence about getting it you might like my review of it.
There’s a lot to see at the Abbey and you can really take your time to explore the grounds, the gardens and inside too. The weather was starting to turn on us so we couldn’t explore as fully as we’d have liked and we had our dog Annie with us.
The cloisters were one of the bits I really wanted to see as I knew it was a filming location for Harry Potter and it really didn’t disappoint. You definitely felt like you were in Hogwarts!
Note for dog owners – Dogs can go in the abbey grounds but they can’t go inside the cloisters.
Find the Harry Potter Filming locations
If Harry Potter filming locations are what have brought you to the village you’re in for a treat because there’s a few different spots you can see.
In the village itself there are 2 houses that were used in the films. They are both shown on Google Maps so if you forget where they are when you arrive (like I did) then you can get the information from there too.
Harry Potter’s Parents House in The Philosopher’s Stone
This house is used in the very first Harry Potter film – The Philosopher’s Stone (or Sorcerer’s stone if you’re in the US). If you remember the scene when Hagrid finally tells Harry about what happened to his parents – there’s a flashback to when Voldemort walks through a gate to Harry’s Parents house.
This is where that flashback took place! It wasn’t used in the later films when Harry goes to Godric’s Hollow – that’s another house in Lavenham, Suffolk.
If you want to visit this house be aware that there’s a large ‘Private’ sign on the gate – keep your distance and be respectful.
Slughorn’s House in The Half Blood Prince
The second house that’s of interest in the village is the one where Dumbledore and Harry went to try and get Slughorn to be a Hogwarts teacher in The Half Blood Prince film. It was supposed to belong to muggles in the fictional village of Budleigh Babberton and Slughorn disguised himself as a chair.
The house is behind a gate and looked like it was empty when we visited but again, please be respectful and keep your distance.
Lacock Abbey Cloisters
Finally you should head to Lacock Abbey where a few different scenes in the first film were staged.
The scene where Harry, Ron and Hermione are questioned by Severus Snape in the halls of Hogwarts is filmed here as is the Mirror of Erised scene and the Defense against the Dark Arts classroom scene with Professor Quirrell (where he’s holding a large lizard).
The whole area feels just like Hogwarts when you’re inside and you can explore a few different areas too. It does get busy so if getting pictures is important come late or early!
Learn about Photography at the Fox Talbot Museum
William Henry Fox Talbot used to live at the country house by the Abbey and he was a pioneer of photography being the first person to invent the photographic negative.
The museum at the Abbey is of interest to anyone who like photography and there are different exhibitions laid on with that as the theme.
There’s a fee to go in the museum but as it’s National Trust owned if you’re a member you get to go in for free.
How to get to Lacock
As Lacock is a village in the countryside the easiest and best ways to visit are either by car or with a group on a tour.
Lacock is only a few miles from the M4 which is a motorway which takes you into London. You’ll want to exit at junction 17.
The postcode for the village is SN15 2LG.
Parking at Lacock
There’s a large National Trust car park that is situated just outside the village and just a couple of minutes walk away. You should go there to park as there is no parking for visitors in the village.
Members of the National Trust can park for free (you’ll need to scan your ticket at the machine) and non members are charged £4.50 for the day (correct as at January 2023)
Group tours to Lacock from London
If you’re interested in coming to Lacock from London but you don’t have your own transport the easiest way is to join a group tour. Often these are small sized groups and run by enthusiastic people who know all about the history of the place.
Lacock is a small destination so most of these tours will add in some other places as well to make the most of the journey. It’s a great way to see some of England easily!
Check out these tours: