Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Village Stuck in Time

by Nancy Moser

 When I was trying to find a British town to be the setting for the beginning of my novel, Masquerade, I tumbled upon the village of Lacock. Unknowingly, I’d seen this village in many a movie: “Cranford”, the Harry Potter movies, “Emma”, various “Pride & Prejudice” productions, “Moll Flanders”, “The Other Boleyn Girl” (among others.)

Why is it used so much in films?

Because it’s a village stuck in time—stuck in another century. By the way, if you’ve never seen the movie/series “Cranford”, watch it. It's full of endearing characters and an engrossing storyline. Here’s a photo from the movie that shows a little of Lacock in action.  See how easily it travels from the twenty-first century to the nineteenth?
The village dates back to the 13th century and grew because of the wool trade.  Stonehenge and Bath are nearby. 

Also close by is Lacock Abbey, which has its own 13th century history. It was founded by Ela, Countess of Salisbury. She was married to William Longespee, the illegitimate son of Henry II (one of many.) William witnessed the signing of the Magna Carta, and with Ela, laid the fourth and fifth foundation stones of Salisbury Cathedral. It’s hard for me to imagine being a part of two such monumental occasions. William died in 1226 and is buried in the cathedral. His tomb was opened in 1791. Inside, they found more than they bargained for: a well-preserved corpse of a rat, containing traces of arsenic, was found inside his skull. The rat is now on display in a case at the Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum. Okay then. I think I’ll skip that side-trip.

Lacock Abbey
Fifteen to twenty-five nuns (usually from well to do families) worked in the Abbey, gaining income from the wool business and hospitality. But Henry VIII messed that up when he dissolved all English monasteries in 1536, and sold off the assets. As the new head of the Church of England (created so he could get a divorce and marry Anne Boleyn) he wanted to break free of the pope, and so rid England of all things Catholic. He sold the Abbey to Sir Sharington who converted it into a house in 1539. Sharington demolished the abbey church but kept the very lovely cloisters. Everybody wants to redecorate.

But the most famous person to live in the Abbey was William Henry Fox Talbot. He’s known for discovering the photographic negative. In one of those cool quirks of writing, I already had a photographer in my story (Anders Svensson) so when my Lacock girl ran into him, there was a connection via Talbot.

The village is run by the British National Trust, who carefully regulates its out-of-time appeal. Want to visit?  Check it out:  Visiting Lacock Village

NANCY MOSER is the best-selling author of over 25 novels, including Love of the Summerfields, Bride of the Summerfields, Christy Award winner, Time Lottery; Washington’s Lady, Mozart’s Sister, The Journey of Josephine Cain, and Masquerade. Nancy has been married for forty years—to the same man. They have three grown children and six grandchildren, and live in the Midwest. She’s earned a degree in architecture; run a business with her husband; traveled extensively in Europe; and has performed in various theatres and choirs. She knits voraciously, kills all her houseplants, and can wire an electrical fixture without getting shocked. She is a fan of anything antique—humans included. Author Website, Footnotes from History Blog, Author Blog/Inspirational humor, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Good Reads  

Read the first book in my Manor House series: Love of the Summerfields: 1880 England. The lives and loves of manor and village intertwine. Earl and shopkeeper, countess and clerk—all will be stunned and transformed by a secret that begs to be revealed. When the Weston family returns to Summerfield Manor at the close of the London social season, both village and manor relax into their normal existence. But for four women, turmoil awaits. Each must battle the restrictions of her position as her faith and character are tested. Each will have a choice to make between her own happiness and a truth that will turn their carefully-ordered world upside down.

Continue the story with BOOK #2:  BRIDE OF THE SUMMERFIELDS


  1. I would love to visits Lacock and walked the streets there. It's one of those places where you wish the walls could talk. :)

  2. Checked for Cranford on my Cable TV but not on there at the moment. Would love to see it. I will check at the library. Thanks for the interesting post. sm wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

  3. Judi Dench is in Cranford and is superb. I ended up buying the DVDs I love it so much.