St. Mary’s Church Lydiard Tregoze wins confirmed National Lottery support

St. Mary’s Church Lydiard Tregoze, which lies on the western edge of Swindon in historic Lydiard Park, has received a confirmed National Lottery grant award from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to conserve its gorgeous interiors. The project aims include conserving the buildings extensive and nationally significant medieval wall paintings, 17th Century monuments, ancient carved woodwork and star spangled ceiling.

Made possible by National Lottery players, the grant of £615,000 towards the £901,605 delivery phase will enable the church to carry out the conservation work, environmental improvements and access improvements to St Mary’s Church as well as the delivery of a specialist training programme and associated learning, volunteering and community engagement activities .

The project aims to rescue the church from deteriorating further and improve public access by re-opening the hidden south porch and creating a welcoming interpretation and activity area. The church plans a wide range of educational activities and events as well as offering training and volunteer opportunities for local people, families, schoolchildren and higher education students. These will include hands on conservation workshops and skills training.

St. Mary’s stands behind the gracious mansion of Lydiard House and is famous for the richness of its monuments to the St. John family who lived at Lydiard for over 500 years. The church currently attracts over 8,100 visitors a year from both this country and abroad and is well used by local schools researching heritage on their doorstep and visitors to the adjacent house and park.

Project Champion, Rt. Reverend Dr Lee Rayfield, Bishop of Swindon:

‘The National Lottery receives many deserving applications so it is particularly heartening that Swindon has once again been supported by the award of a major grant. St.Mary’s remains a national treasure and enabling us to preserve and restore its unique features continues to benefit local people as well as enriching our country’s heritage.’

Vicar St Mary’s Lydiard Tregoze Reverend Captain Clive Deverell (Area Dean )

“I am delighted that we have been awarded this National Lottery grant, it will ensure families from across West Swindon will be able to share in its worship and special history for generations to come. Also we will play our part in training a great number of future conservators of medieval Wall paintings. ”

Project Chair Paul Gardner

‘It is wonderful news and we are immensely grateful to the National Lottery and very excited about taking our plans forward, especially working with the many organizations from across the town – The Friends of Lydiard Park, schools ,Swindon Art College, The Arts Society , Swindon Festival of Literature, Prime Theatre and many more – that have enthusiastically supported the project and pledged their support and involvement.’

‘We have virtually raised the match funded of £286,600 needed for this stage of the project following receipt of substantial individual donations as well as grants from a range of charities and other organisations including The Friends of Lydiard Park, Garfield Weston Foundation, West Swindon & Lydiard Tregoze Church Partnership, All Churches Trust, The Pilgrim Trust, St Andrews Conservation Trust, The Leche Trust , Wiltshire Historic Churches Trust, The Alan Evans Memorial Trust and continued public fund raising.

I wish to thank the National Lottery whole heartedly for making this crucial award.

Alastair Stevenson, Chair Friends of Lydiard Park

I am immensely pleased that the National Lottery has chosen to make this substantial investment in the conservation of St. Mary’s Lydiard Tregoze. The Friends have been passionate supporters of this project, committing over £100,000 towards it thanks to the generosity of a private legacy. We look forward to seeing the conservation work begin in earnest and all the training, education and volunteering opportunities that it involves. Congratulations to St. Mary’s and grateful thanks to the National Lottery!

Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, people of all ages will have the chance to get involved in creating a secure and exciting future for St Mary’s Church and its incredible heritage. We are delighted to support this project.”

St. Mary’s Church belongs to the Church of England. It is a vibrant working church with a dedicated vicar and regular Sunday services in the heart of the community of West Swindon & Lydiard Tregoze where continuous Christian worship has taken place for over 1100 years.

Lydiard Park’s 18th Century landscape was restored in 2004-7 in a £5.3 million project which was also supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. http://www.hlf.org.uk. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLottery

For further information, images and interviews please contact Paul Gardner at gp.gardner@btinternet.com or 07831 868429

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Marriage Lines

A church has stood on the site of St Mary’s, Lydiard Tregoze for more than a thousand years and during that time there have been a great many weddings take place there.

Although members of the St John’s brought their babies to be baptised at the 13th century font and some were buried in the family vault beneath the south chapel, they invariably chose to marry elsewhere.

However, the parish church has solemnized a good few weddings – over 1000 and that’s only between 1666 and 1840.

It was Henry VIII’s right hand man Thomas Cromwell, Vicar General, who issued a 1538 edict in the wake of the dissolution of the monasteries that the clergy keep records of all baptisms, marriages and burials. Few of these earliest registers survive but those at St. Mary’s date from 1666 with the first recorded marriage between Richard Herringe and Elizabeth Holloway on February 9.

The number of marriages in the small rural parish fluctuated during this period. In 1682 there were 20 while in 1712 there was just one.

In the mid 19th century one local family celebrated seven weddings, two of them on May 4, 1841. Jonas Clarke, tenant at Wick Farm, married Alice Pinnel in 1853. The couple had lived together for more than thirty years but had to wait for the death of Jonas’ first wife before they could marry. The first of Jonas and Alice’s five daughters to tie the knot was Alice who married John Wyatt a farmer from Wootton Bassett in 1839.

The double wedding in 1841 was between two more Clarke daughters, Sarah who married Thomas Hall, a farmer from Broad Blunsdon and Jane who married Francis Carey, also from Broad Blunsdon.

Mary Clarke married William Knapp, a Swindon grocer, on May 4, 1847 and youngest daughter Anne married Walter London, a draper from Aldershot while son Jonas married widow Elizabeth Bathe Humphries in 1859.

The summer months of June and July notched up just 128, presumably everyone was too preoccupied during this busy time in the agricultural calendar. Just 56 couples married in January during the 174-year period between 1666 and 1840.

October was by far the most popular month for marriages during this time with around 180 weddings, seven in 1680 alone. With the Michaelmas tenancies secured and the harvest out the way, this appears to have been a favourite month to wed.

Today the church of St Mary’s is a popular wedding venue and couples are required to book the church many months in advance of their big day.

Brookhouse Farm

Brookhouse Farm pub and restaurant is presently closed as the Victorian farmhouse undergoes a refit, and not for the first time.

 

Standing on the corner of Middleleaze Drive and Tewkesbury Way, just inside the Swindon borough boundary, with views across Lydiard Park and its back to the sprawling town, today Brookhouse Farm straddles the divide between town and country.

 

Once belonging to the St. John family at Lydiard Park, a farm has stood on the site for at least 200 years. Along with Wick Farm it made an early appearance on the 1773 Andrews and Dury map of Wiltshire. Nineteenth century particulars of the Lydiard estate reveal that parcels of land, gardens and cottages on the two farms appear to have been interchangeable.

 

Called Brook Farm until the beginning of the 20th century, the 165-acre dairy farm perched on the parish boundary of Lydiard Tregoze and Lydiard Millicent. The farm took its name from the brook that ran through the St. John’s Lydiard estate and meandered across the fields to the small settlement at Shaw in Lydiard Millicent.

 

The farm complex, auctioned at the Goddard Arms Hotel, Swindon on Friday June 28, 1901 was described in the sale particulars as including a substantial house, brick built with slate roof, facing due south.

 

On the ground floor there was a drawing room with bow window, a dining room 21ft by 14ft, (6.4 x 4.2 metres) a morning room, large entrance hall and a kitchen ‘with a capital dresser as fixed.’ Above the dairy, ‘a capacious Cheese Room fitted with tacks and stands’ – and of course there were the ‘usual Domestic Offices.’ With five bedrooms and a box room on the first floor and two servants’ bedrooms on the second, this was definitely a desirable residence.

 

At the time of the 1901 sale the owner was Joses Badcock. His wife Sarah, had grown up at Brook Farm, the daughter of Thomas and Joan Plummer. First married to Richard Frampton Tuckey, Sarah was widowed in 1863. She married Joses Badcock, himself a widower, in 1868. The couple lived first at Millicent House in Lydiard Millicent before returning to Sarah’s childhood home in the 1870s.

 

Brook Farm had just a handful of owners during the first half of the 20th century, among them Miss Elizabeth Akers, Alfred Leonard Purkis and Harold Pears. When Harold Pears sold the property in 1939 a note is made that: The Owner is at present renting a further 61 acres from Lady Bolingbroke, the tenancy of which could no doubt be transferred.’ So, nothing much had changed!

 

Brookhouse Farm pub and restaurant reopens on August 13.

 

Pictures published courtesy of the Brookhouse Farm Facebook page.

 

 

 

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The Friends of Lydiard Park is an independent charity dedicated to supporting the conservation and continued enhancement of Lydiard House and Park.

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The Friends of Lydiard Park is an independent charity dedicated to supporting the conservation and continued enhancement of Lydiard House and Park.

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The Friends of Lydiard Park is an independent charity dedicated to supporting the conservation and continued enhancement of Lydiard House and Park.