Lydiard Park will soon resemble popular period drama Poldark thanks to months of hard work from volunteers.
The Swindon Borough Council-owned park’s Walled Garden will be transported back to Georgian times when it hosts the Love Lydiard Craft Fair on the weekend of Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 July.
The craft fair is open from 10am until 4pm on both days and, as well as professional craft makers selling a wide variety of items, volunteers – including a number of professional actors – will be dressed up in Georgian costumes enacting stories from Lydiard’s past.
Visitors will be able to try Georgian games on one of the lawns in the Walled Garden, while there will also be the chance for people to meet characters from years gone by such as the Lady of the House wandering around the grounds or the Head Cook collecting fish from the Ice House.
Volunteers have given up their spare time over the past few months to painstakingly make costumes for the event. Val Stuyvesant, from Wootton Bassett, is a curtain maker by trade but has turned her hand to making costumes for the re-enactments.
“I always wanted to do some volunteering and although I don’t come to Lydiard a lot I heard about this project and how they needed people to make costumes – it seemed ideal,” explained Val. “Making the costumes and finding out a bit about their history has been really interesting. I have been doing lots of research into the period and it has been great to go along to various charity shops and pick up bits for the costumes. Seeing the costumes come together and then to see people trying them on is brilliant.”
Fellow volunteer Sarah Wicks from Old Town has been lending a hand since last November. “I sew but I’m also helping to organise the craft fair,” explained Sarah. “It has been great fun, but being involved in the project has inspired me to do some research on the [Lydiard] House and to find out more about the period. Poldark has been a great source of information.”
Rehearsals for the various enactments have already taken place and the volunteer actors, many of them professionals, have begun practising their roles.
Sam Vaughan, 27, of Middleleaze, was keen to support his local park having been a frequent visitor since he was a boy. “I come up here all the time,” said Sam. “I saw a poster and it said they were looking for actors so I gave them a call.
“I have been acting for two or three years. I don’t know too much about the history of Lydiard House, but there is so much historical drama on TV like Poldark, which is from a similar time so you can draw bits and pieces from those.
“I think I’m playing a hermit at this stage so that should be fun.”
In addition to the live acting, the craft fair will also feature woodturning demonstrations throughout the day from the North Wiltshire Woodturning Association and a wide variety of traders showcasing their craft products. There will also be a barbecue in the Rickyard next to the restored horse stalls and stable buildings.
Cllr Garry Perkins, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Lydiard Park, said: “We are very fortunate to have such a dedicated group of volunteers who put their heart and soul into Lydiard and those working on the Love Lydiard Craft Fair are no exception.
“They have spent countless hours over the last few months making crafts and costumes and I can’t thank them enough for their efforts. The craft fair weekend promises to be a fantastic event and will give people a fascinating insight into what life was like at Lydiard all those years ago.”
Entrance to the Love Lydiard Craft Fair on both days is 50p. For further information about the Lydiard Craft Fair visit: www.lydiardpark.org.uk