It was a warm, beautiful, blustery day as we walked with our packs towards the entrance to the infamous Lacock Abbey. With our big clumsy bags, we felt the slight awkwardness as you always do when all your belongings are on your back. Tentatively we asked the friendly looking woman at the entrance desk if they might store our bags for us while we wandered around. While chatting we learned that our National Trust of Scotland Membership was also valid for National Trust sites in England! Euphoric we entered the gardens, hand in hand, with our backs and wallets whispering their gratitude.
The Lacock Abbey and gardens was well worth the trip. Originally a medieval nunnery built in 1232 it was later converted into a residence for William Henry Fox Talbot, one of the claimed inventors of photography. Before entering the actual abbey, we wandered the central courtyard with an ancient medieval brewery. We couldn’t help but laugh at how the history of brewing kept incorporating itself into our trip (Read about our tour of a Victorian Brewery in Devizes here!).
As we entered the abbey our breath was sucked out of our lungs, the architecture was intricately marvelous. As we slowly walked I began to feel giddy as I immediately I started seeing scenes from Harry Potter flash in my mind. Sure enough a backdrop to the Harry Potter movies is one of Lacock Abbey’s many claims to fame! I do admit I feel a bit guilty over how genuinely excited that made me.
After wandering the medieval wine cellar (anyone else think it’s comical that these ancient religious places always seem to have wine and beer) and servant kitchens we made our way into the Talbots residence. Walking up the stairs from the abbey into the residence was truly like fast-forwarding a couple of centuries. It was easy to tell that this had been one of the wealthiest homes of its time based on its size, elaborate decoration and ‘modern’ amenities.
We grabbed a quick snack at the National Trust Café (eh) and headed towards the George Inn to catch the bus into Trowbridge and then the train to Bradford on Avon.
Bradford on Avon
Immediately upon arrival we were completely enchanted with Bradford on Avon. A sleepy village in the beautiful, green countryside filled with ancient buildings and an earthy, hippy-ish vibe. We grabbed a coffee at Timbrell’s Yard (so cute!!) and met our third Couchsurfing host, Adam.
With a bare profile, an interesting main photo and no references, we were definitely a bit more on edge about how this host would be. However upon meeting Adam, we realized we definitely had no reason to be concerned. Although he was definitely quirky, you immediately knew he was a warm, nice and genuine man.
After dropping our stuff at his apartment (where his quirkiness was aptly displayed by two life size Halloween store mannequins – one in the bathroom holding toilet paper and the other playing a fake piano in the entrance hall) we all strolled along the Kennet Avon Canal to see the Avoncliffe Aqueduct and grab a pint. We caught a glimpse of the enormous Tithe barn (where the residents of Bradford on Avon used to pay their taxes) and enjoyed interesting conversation while lazily walking in the warm afternoon sun.
The next morning we were up bright and early to catch the 15-minute train to Bath. Of course, we missed our train by about 10 seconds and had an hour before the next came. Secretly pleased (I really had wanted to explore this lovely town a bit more) we wandered around, stumbling on a farmers market and buying some delicious cranberry sharp cheddar cheese. As we continued walking, we fell more and more in love with Bradford on Avon. From a functioning teahouse built in the 1200’s to hidden green covered walkways, it was a truly enchanting place.
Giving ourselves a bit more time we made sure to not miss the next train and for the rest of the day found ourselves completely in incomprehensive awe of the beautiful historic town of Bath. Read about our incredible day visiting the Roman Bath Spas and exploring the city here!