Main restoration project gets underway in 2018
Preparation to submit a detailed application to the Heritage Lottery Fund to support a £1 million conservation 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 also made generous donations to bridge the gap to enable the first stage of the conservation project to be successfully completed.
The St Mary’s restoration fundraising committee had hopes that that HLF would a decision by the time Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, was due to make a visit in September 2015. Archbishop Justin and his wife Caroline is pictured with Paul Gardner looking at the unique St John family tree portrayred in the multi-panel polyptych in St Mary's.
However the HLF rejected the application in November that year. A second revised bid was successful in October 2018 and work start immediately.
Project chair Paul Gardner said: “It is wonderful news and we are immensely grateful to the National Lottery and very excited about taking our plans forward, especially working with the many organisations from across the town – The Friends of Lydiard Park, schools, Swindon Art College, The Arts Society, Swindon Festival of Literature, Prime Theatre and many more – that have enthusiastically supported the project and pledged their support and involvement.”
Click to find out more about the restoration project
The HLF awarded £5 million to the Lydiard Park conservation project from 2003 to 2007. With Lydiard House, gardens and historic landscape restored, the aim of conserving St Mary’s is to create an integrated heritage centre in Swindon for future generations to enjoy.