The ‘Lacock Unlocked’ project is centred on the archive for the Lacock Abbey estate and its past owners dating back to the 12th century. This is an archive of outstanding local, national and international value. It comprises early deeds and charters relating to Lacock Abbey and the surrounding lands dating from the 12th century; deeds, manorial records, surveys and estate papers of the Tudor period relating to Sir William Sharington; estate surveys and household accounts; and personal correspondence and papers of the Feilding, Davenport and Talbot families, including estate records of William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877), a pioneer of photography. The archive contains over a 100 boxes worth of archival material ranging from diaries and maps to recipe books and naval records. This includes the illuminated pardon for Sir William Sharington (1549) amid many other fascinating documents.
The Lacock Archive provides written, pictorial and cartographic evidence of the evolution of the community, its landscape and built environment over 800 years. It is vital to the understanding of the history of Lacock and adjacent communities around North and West Wiltshire. Lacock is a preserved village and together with the Abbey it is under the ownership of the National Trust. The house and village have around 300,000 visitors a year and are a popular television and film location. Movies filmed in Lacock have included BBC adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, Cranford, scenes from Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and most recently Downton Abbey. The archive provides a unique link to a preserved village that enables researchers and visitors to Lacock to better understand the Abbey, the buildings in the village, and the community’s development; and enhances the heritage experience of visitors.
The Lacock archive was brought in 2012 by Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre after being awarded a £492,000 grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund(HLF). The majority of the grant, £420,000 was used to purchase the archives. The remaining £72,000 has been designated to catalogue and conserve the Lacock archives to make them accessible to the public. In addition to this, a website and app have been created to provide another means to access to this wonderful collection. Various events and talks concerning the archives have also been held.