Lacock Nunnery

William Lisle Bowles

June 24, 1837

I stood upon the stone where ELA lay,
  The widowed founder of these ancient walls,
  Where fancy still on meek devotion calls,
Marking the ivied arch, and turret gray--
For her soul's rest--eternal rest--to pray;
  Where visionary nuns yet seem to tread,
  A pale dim troop, the cloisters of the dead,
Though twice three hundred years have flown away!
  But when, with silent step and pensive mien,
In weeds, as mourning for her sisters gone,
  The mistress of this lone monastic scene
Came; and I heard her voice's tender tone,
  I said, Though centuries have rolled between,
One gentle, beauteous nun is left, on earth, alone.

Ela, Countess of Salisbury was the founder of Lacock Abbey for the order of Augustinian nuns. In the reign of Henry VII in the mid-16th Century, the monastery was suppressed. The buildings became a private house.

The house has been used as a film set for movies including Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and The Other Boleyn Girl.

The Abbey is a popular tourist destination and has been owned by the National Trust since 1944. It also contains a museum of the life and work of Henry Fox Talbot, pioneer of photography and the man who created the earliest known photographic negative - a picture of a window at Lacock.