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Lacock Abbey

Lacock Abbey is a country house near to Chippenham in rural Wiltshire. It might be considered home to modern photography. It was here at his Lacock Abbey, that British photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot developed a process which allowed photographic prints to be made from negatives. At the time this was a huge advantage over the rival French daguerreotype process.

The daguerreotype photographic process was invented by Louis Daguerre and Nicéphore Niépce. The process produced a single daguerreotype rather than a negative, making the production of several images from one shot difficult. Around the same time, British chemist Henry Fox Talbot was experimenting with his new salt paper and calotype, negative / positive process. At Lacock Abbey, Fox Talbot developed the three primary element of photography: developing, fixing and printing. He received a medal from the Royal Society for his work. He went on to write ‘The Pencil of Nature‘ a book detailing the new process developed by Henry Fox Talbot.

Today, Lacock Abbey is home to the Fox Talbot Museum and is managed by the National Trust. There is a whole host of information available on early photography processes as well as some detail on how Henry Fox Talbot came to develop his negative / positive photographic process. Even if you are not interested in Lacock Abbey as the birthplace of modern photography, it is a lovely place to visit for a walk. You can explore the grounds of the country house which is packed with over 800 years of history. Lacock Abbey also plays host to Royal Photographic Society workshops.

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