St Mary’s Church in Lydiard Park has submitted a detailed application to the Heritage Lottery Fund to support a £1 million project to complete the conservation work started in 2011.
And they hope for a decision by the time Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, makes a visit in September.
The grant will enable the historic interior of the church to be preserved for the future generations, including the conservation and cleaning of the extensive medieval wall paintings and glass, and the repair and conservation of the painted ceilings, monuments and pews. Access will be improved to provide a wheelchair friendly entrance to the church from Lydiard House.
Importantly the conservation will preserve and interpret the building and its treasures for the widest range of audiences, in association with Lydiard House and schools, as well as a lively events programme.
Preparation for this project began in 2011 when the church received a grant from English Heritage to carry out essential repairs to make the building wind and watertight. Urgent stabilising works to the medieval wall paintings on the East chancel wall were also completed. This attracted many visitors fascinated to watch the conservator at work.
As well as the financial support of English Heritage the church received a number of other grants from a range of charitable organisations. The congregation and the wider public have also been generous in bridging the gap to enable the first stage of the conservation project to be successfully completed early last year.
This final phase will cost just over £1 million. The Heritage Lottery Fund application is for £700,00 which will be supported by a generous legacy of £100,000 from a member of the Friends of Lydiard Park, and £40,000 from church contributions.
The outstanding £200,000 will need to be raised. Hilary Gardner St Mary’s project co-ordinator said: “We’re confident that with the Heritage Lottery Fund on board further charitable donations can be realised.
“The church is extremely grateful to the many members of the public both locally and from around the world who continue to give to the project. All donations whatever their size will contribute toward the conservation of this beautiful building.
“St Mary’s is at the heart of Swindon’s most significant visitor destination; it’s a much loved and valued local facility. Since the HLF Lydiard Park conservation project from 2003 to 2007, Lydiard has become a great source of local pride and a venue for civic and public occasions.
“With house, gardens and historic landscape restored, the conservation of St Mary’s is key to secure the integrity of the entire Lydiard site for future generations to continue to enjoy.”
Right, June 2011, witnessing the launch of the appeal, from left, Anthony St John, 14th great grandson of Margaret Beauchamp, the first of the St John family who died in 1481, Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Mr John Bush, the mayoress Sandra Barnett, Robert Buckland MP, appeal coordinator Hilary Gardner, the late mayor of Swindon Cllr Rex Barnett, and St Mary’s minister Rev Clive Deverell