History is all around us here in West Swindon and just up the road from Lydiard Park is a survivor from the ancient forest of Braydon.
Back in the day our neck of the woods was the property of the King. The ancient woodland at Braydon had become a royal forest by 1135 and in 1228 enclosed an area of around 46 square miles. While the forest was the playground of the privileged, for the ordinary folk it provided vital resources and the right to common pasture to graze their animals.
In 1270 Robert Tregoze received a royal licence from Henry III to create a deer park at Lydiard but the march of progress had already begun. By 1300 several of the local woods had been disafforested including those owned by John de Clinton and Robert Russell of Lydiard Millicent called ‘Spersolt’ (Sparcell) and William de Grandison’s wood at Lydiard Tregoze.
Thankfully Peatmoor Copse was preserved during the 1980s development of West Swindon and since 1988 the Peatmoor Community Woodland Volunteers have maintained this ecologically important six-acre site. The volunteers meet on the first Sunday of the month (next meeting is June 2) between 10 am – 1 pm, and an extra pair of hands are always welcome.
Meanwhile, photographer and Friend of Lydiard Park, Chris Pocock is beating the bounds of the Lydiard Park estate as it stood at the time of the two great property sales in 1930 and 1943. The Lydiard estate once comprised 3000 acres but by the middle of the twentieth century was already considerably smaller. Chris is using rent rolls, sale details and old and modern maps to create a photographic record of the extent of the former estate.
So, if you see Chris taking photos at the bottom of your drive it means your house is built on land that once belonged to the Lydiard estate, and he doesn’t have any ulterior motives!
The 18th century Lydiard Park Estate
Lydiard Park 1924
The Lydiard Estate and Peatmoor Lagoon and Copse 2000
On this day 125 years ago, Henry George and Elizabeth Baily celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary with family and friends at St Mary’s Rectory in Lydiard Tregoze.
The Rev Baily might have only been the incumbent at St Mary’s for less than ten years but he was well known in Swindon where he had served as Vicar for thirty eight.
Henry George Baily arrived in Swindon in 1843 as Vicar at the ancient Holy Rood Church, the town’s original parish church. It was he who led the campaign for a new church, delivering his congregation at Christ Church designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and dedicated in 1851.
But in 1894 it was less about his ecclesiastic achievements and all about his long marriage. As the Swindon Advertiser reported:
‘We have the pleasure of chronicling this week, an event that does not so very frequently occur in this country, viz, the celebration of a Golden Wedding.’
The report continued:
‘For the long period from 1847 to 1885, Mr Baily was vicar of Swindon, and great was the regret expressed by the congregation when he left Swindon and went to reside at Liddiard. However, he has always taken an interest in his old parishioners, and it was not surprising that a large company assembled at the Rectory at Liddiard on Wednesday, to congratulate Mr and Mrs Baily upon the celebration of their Golden Wedding.’
Mrs Baily even wore the same dress she wore on her wedding day, and that didn’t happen very often then, or now!
Henry George Baily was born in Calne on December 8, 1815, the son of George and Harriett Baily. At the time of the 1841 census he was studying at Christs College, Cambridge and two years later he married Elizabeth Mignan Richards at Holy Trinity Church, Cambridge on May 23, 1844. Elizabeth was born on August 31, 1817 at Baroda Guzerah, India the daughter of Captain James Goss Richards and his wife Elizabeth.
By 1851 Henry and Elizabeth Baily were living in the Vicarage, Market Square with their four children Harriet 6, Elizabeth 4, Mary 3 and one month old Henry George. They would go on to have ten children in all.
St Mary’s Rectory must have been pretty busy on the day of the celebrations. All their family were at home, including the grandchildren, and the great and the good of Swindon all piled in, along with local farming families such as Mr and Mrs Willis from Can Court and Mr and Mrs Horton from Costow.
‘During the afternoon Canon Ponsonby made the presentation, from the friends, and offered congratulations to the rev gentleman and his wife upon having attained their golden wedding. Mr A. Plummer also expressed the pleasure it gave him and other Swindonians to come over and congratulate their old friend and vicar, and trusted that he and his wife would live many more years.
They had not forgotten the good work Mr Baily had done whilst he was vicar of Swindon, and that during his ministry the splendid church and schools were erected there. In conclusion, Mr Plummer said he could only re-echo the sentiments of all present in congratulating Mr and Mrs Baily upon the celebration of their golden wedding.
Mr Baily, who spoke with a great deal of emotion, suitably acknowledged the kindness which had been shown towards him and his family.
The present consisted of a purse of gold, which will be accompanied by an illuminated address when it is completed, bearing the following words:-
Presented to the Rev H.G. Baily and Mrs Baily, together with a purse of gold, on their golden wedding, May 23rd, 1894, by the parishioners of Liddiard Tregooze and friends as a token of their respect and esteem. All unite in wishing them still many years of happiness and blessing,’ the report continued.
Henry George Baily died on May 8, 1900 aged 84 and is buried in the churchyard at Christ Church. His wife, Elizabeth, survived him by ten years. She spent her last years living with her youngest daughter Florence. She died in 1910 aged 92.