I am lucky enough to not have to work on Fridays. Over the last couple of years, these days have become my ‘solo-adventuring’ time. I love doing things by myself every now and again; these Fridays have been a much-needed introversion time, where I can just potter around and get lost in my thoughts, whilst exploring things which I wouldn’t normally take the time
Last Friday I popped along to Lacock Abbey, to see a rather unusual exhibition which has popped up in the Tudor Courtyard.
This was my first visit to Lacock, which is a short drive along the M4, just shy of an hour from Bristol. It was the most perfect crisp, autumnal day, with the leaves crunching pleasantly underfoot and that lush smell of the changing weather tinging the air.
Lacock Abbey is the birthplace of modern photography; home to Henry Fox Talbot, who in the first half of the 19th Century began experimenting with what he called ‘photogenic drawing’ which later developed into the first photographic negative. He really is an interesting chap – I have to admit I had heard of him before but wasn’t fully aware of the scale of his accomplishments.
I made a beeline for the exhibition first, sitting in a marquee in the centre of the abbey courtyard. Thresholds is unlike any other exhibition I have ever visited. A virtual world, built around a physical space made to represent one of the earliest photography exhibitions which took place in Birmingham in 1839.
Once inside the space, you are transported via sight and sound to a boy’s school in the early 1800s, complete with mice scuttling on the floor and a roaring fire in one corner of the room. I was highly skeptical at first, but left completely blown away at how much thought and detail had gone into it.
Donning what looked suspiciously like a Ghostbuster’s proton pack and a pair of goggles which obscured everything from sight, I was led into the room. My goggles flickered into life and I was suddenly not myself – this wasn’t 2017 anymore but 1839, complete with rioting Chartist protesters outside the windows. It was absolutely incredible.
Interactive pieces were activated by hovering your hand over the glass exhibition cases, which only added to the Blade Runner-esque thoughts that were racing through my mind. This is the future, people, and it’s bloody fantastic.
Feet firmly back in the present day, I had some time to potter around the abbey, which spans hundreds and hundreds of years of history. A medieval monastery which was bought during the dissolution and transformed into a family home, it eventually found its way into the hands of the National Trust shortly after the second world war.
It was an absolutely fantastic day out for a history nerd such as myself, but perhaps the most exciting thing was that a number of the Harry Potter films were made here too. One million points to Gryffindor!
If you fancy popping along to Lacock this autumn, Thresholds is running until the 29th October. Find out more here.
I was invited along for the purpose of this review but all words and opinions are my own.