St. Mary’s Church, Lydiard Tregoze has submitted a revised application for a grant to complete the major restoration of the building, some of which dates back to the 13th Century.
The appeal to save the unique wall painting and monuments from deterioration has been running for several years. The first part of the HLF bid is for £131,700 to complete development works. The church has already raised the £61,000 match funding needed for this stage of the project.
The second and following part of the HLF bid outlines a request for a £615,000 contribution towards the £876,000 costs to restore St. Mary’s historic interiors and make it more accessible to the public with access improvements, imaginative interpretation and lively education programmes.
Appeal chairman Paul Gardner said: “St. Mary’s is widely regarded as one of the most important small churches in the country. People who come to visit it are amazed to see the treasures it contains. But we desperately need the funds to prevent the historic interiors deteriorating further.”
So far the church has successfully raised all the money needed to restore the building’s structure and make it weather tight. In June this year it celebrated the restoration of the 18th Century Reredos – the beautifully painted panels behind the altar which had been gradually disintegrating.
Paul continued: “While we await the outcome of our Heritage Lottery Application, carrying out the work to the Reredos has kept interest in the project alive and shown the public that their donations to our appeal fund are being used to continue to restore and conserve the building’s beautiful interiors.”
St. Mary’s is famous for its Golden Cavalier, the rare St. John family polyptych – the life size painted panels of the St. John family in the 17th Century and a host of other monuments.
“It’s rare and extensive medieval wall paintings are less well known and are half hidden from view by dirt and discolouration,” said Paul. “The wall paintings, including a rare surviving example illustrating the murder of Thomas Becket, are a main focus of the project. They have been identified by the Church of England as one of the 100 artworks currently most in need of conservation in their 100 Church Treasures Appeal. Revealing these ancient pictures will transform the building and bring its fascinating history alive.
The church has received considerable support from across the community with over 50 organisations and key individuals pledging their support. Conservation project manager Hilary Gardner added: “We have been working hard with organisations across the town to develop ways in which local people can get involved in this exciting project. We are delighted to have the support and engagement of Swindon College, Swindon Heritage, Prime Theatre Company, our seven local primary schools, Lydiard Park Heritage Trust, NADFAS groups and many others too numerous to name.
“We are immensely grateful to The Friends of Lydiard Park for their financial support and encouragement and Cllr Garry Perkins, Swindon Borough Council, Cabinet Member for Economy, Regeneration and Skills, who has written in support of our project.”
Visit the treasures of St Mary’s on Heritage Open Days in September
St. Mary’s Church is taking part in the national Heritage Open Days event on the weekend of Friday 9, Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 September which is a great opportunity to visit the building and talk to expert guides, and see the famous St. John polyptych opened.
To find out more about the conservation project, whether to become involved or perhaps arrange a visit for a local group or business, contact Paul Gardner on firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured above and below, St Mary’s appeal chair Paul Gardner with heritage appeal adviser Sarah Finch-Crisp and project architect Jonathan Saunders. Photos: Richard Wintle Calyx
©Calyx Picture Agency