The summer of 2004 saw a range of work and events take place before a grant of £3 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) was received to restore significant landscape features and improve visitor attractions.
The main event that summer was a major dig by Wessex Archaeology, including regular visits by Time Team presenter Phil Harding.
The excavation involved over 1,000 volunteers, and uncovered the layout of the 18th Century walled garden, including original paths, beds, a well and trough and outer walls.
A kiln was also found at the bottom of the main lawn in front of the house where it is believed bricks were produced to build the walled garden.
Time Team’s Phil Harding (far left) with archaeologists in the plunge pool.
Close to the former lake edge, diggers uncovered a fascinating structure originally thought to be a boathouse. After closer study it was concluded this was a cold plunge pool, for Frederick, 2nd Viscount Bolingbroke, which was also restored.
The success of the dig and a series of community events that summer, including a Living History Project involving secondary school students studying the Civil War who watched a battle re-enactment outside the house, helped win the HLF grant the following January.
Most of the restoration work was completed by 2007, the centre piece being the reinstatement of a two-acre ‘lost lake’, which had been dry for nearly a century following the collapse of the dam. Around it heavy horses were used to pull out a large number of felled trees.
The dam was rebuilt to retain the water and another between the two lakes was repaired over which a Chinese-style bridge was built.
The Grade II Listed coach house, today housing the tearooms and education centre, and the ice house were also restored.
A decade on the battle to preserve Lydiard Park and House continues. Swindon Council’s decision to transfer leisure assets to external management has generated fears for the future of this much loved heritage resource.
Sharing the love all summer long
Quality green spaces are essential to healthy, happy communities – that’s the message of this year’s Love Parks Week.
Taking place between 25 July and 3 August, the week is both a celebration of the benefits of our public open spaces and a campaign for continual reinvestment.
Love Parks Week, organised by the Keep Britain Tidy Campaign, was first marked in 2006 with the simple aim of encouraging more people to visit, enjoy and take pride in their local parks and green spaces.
One of Swindon’s favourite open spaces, Lydiard Park, will be hosting a series of events this summer, including some during Love Parks Week.
On Wednesday, 30 July families can enjoy If You Go Down to the Woods Today – part of a series of Story Walks running through the summer holidays.
For more about the park and summer activities see lydiardpark.org.uk