"LAYCOCK, (or Lacock), a parish in the hundred of Chippenham, county Wilts, 3 miles S. of Chippenham, its post town, and 4 N. of Melksham. It is situated on the river Avon, near the Wilts and Berks canal. The village, which is considerable, was formerly a market town under the Longspécs. Here are the remains of an Austin nunnery, founded in 1232 by Ela,[sic] Countess of Salisbury, and now converted into a private residence. The site was given to the Skerringtons at the Dissolution, at which time its revenues were estimated at £203 12s. 3d. There was a very ancient stone cross, which stood near the centre of the village. On the river are the remains of Bewly Priory cell. The impropriate tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £341 10s. 6d., and the vicarial for £325.
The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of Gloucester and Bristol, value £244. The church, dedicated to St. Cyriack, is an ancient structure with a spired tower containing six bells. In the interior are several monuments, including those of the Baynards, and Montagues of Lackham House, Bishop Johnson, &c., also a brass bearing date 1501. Mann, an ambassador to Spain, was a native of this place. The charities produce about £3 per annum. There are National and Sunday schools for both sexes, also a place of worship for the Independents.
The principal residences are Notton House, Notton Lodge, Lacham House, Bowden House, and Lacock Abbey - which last, being built on the site of the abovementioned nunnery, still retains the old cloisters, chapterhouse, kitchen, and treasury for records, where is preserved Henry III.'s Magna Charta of 1225, sent to the Countess of Salisbury, who at that time held the shrievalty of the county of Wilts. The charter is 15 inches by 10½, with the seal still attached. Here are also preserved the bell and many other relics of the old nunnery. W. H. Fox Talbot, Esq., is lord of the manor."
[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) - Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]