After 23 years as Keeper of Lydiard House and latterly Swindon Council's Heritage Manager Sarah Finch-Crisp has moved on to be the director of internationally famous Chiswick House and Gardens Trust in West London.
Earlier in the year the borough council set about appointing a new Director of Culture position by combining the positions of heritage and art manager and Sarah decided to take her considerable experience elsewhere.
Pictured right, Sarah with author and broadcaster Simon Jenkins and the Golden Cavalier inside St Mary's Church, Lydiard Park
She was the driving force is securing £5 million in Heritage Lottery funding and support from some of the town's largest businesses to regenerate Lydiard Park. At Chiswick House she will have a much larger budget of some £12 million and will be primarily responsible for delivering the business plan to will secure the site's financial future and for the operational management of the gardens which are undergoing a major restoration project. She will also play a lead role in developing the educational potential of the house and gardens.
Rupert Hambro, Chairman of the Chiswick House and Gardens Trust welcomed Sarah as the director, pictured below. "This appointment is crucial to the site's success, both during the restoration project and beyond by ensuring financial sustainability and sound operational management. We are therefore absolutely delighted to have recruited such an outstanding candidate.
"Sarah's experience is ideally suited to this role, having overseen the restoration of the 18th Century parkland and gardens at Lydiard House in Wiltshire, as part of her role as Head of Heritage for Swindon Borough Council. "Her extensive experience of managing major projects, raising funds and working with a range of partners and the local community will all be absolutely invaluable at Chiswick."
Commenting on her appointment, Sarah Finch-Crisp said: "I am absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to help steer Chiswick House and Gardens through such an important phase in its development. The restoration of the gardens will undoubtedly provide a landscape and setting of exquisite beauty and interest and one that accommodates and encourages the widest audience. It will be a great privilege to be involved in securing the future of this internationally significant heritage site and I look forward to meeting the many people who care so passionately about it."
The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded £7.9 million towards this £12.1 million garden restoration project, which will see miles of paths renewed, over 1600 new trees planted, the conservatory brought back to life so that the rare camellia collection can continue to thrive and a new café and lavatories built.
All but £1 million has been raised in match funding from a range of charitable trusts and generous individuals. The final push is being led by the Trust and every donation will bring the fundraising campaign closer to achieving its target.
Chiswick House and Garden is widely considered the birthplace of the English Landscape Movement. The gardens of Chiswick House were originally designed by their owner, Richard Boyle, the 3rd Earl of Burlington, with help from his friend William Kent. Chiswick House itself is considered one of the world's most glorious examples of neo-Palladian design, of exceptional architectural purity.