Lydiard Park celebrates 75 years of public ownership

By Jamie Hill - 18 March 2019

CommunityHeritage

Lydiard Park is building up to a special anniversary year with the launch of two new exhibitions.

Throughout this year, the Swindon Borough Council-owned park will celebrate 75 years of public ownership courtesy of the new special exhibitions in the historic house, which get underway from this Saturday (23 March).

The changing face of Lydiard House and parkland has been recorded through art since the 18th Century and visitors to Lydiard House will receive a fascinating visual insight into the evolution of the historic estate.

Visions of Lydiard showcases a selection of paintings and photographs from the Lydiard House collection which illustrate the last 70 years of the estate’s rich history.

The exhibition features work by both internationally acclaimed and local artists, as well as accomplished photographers, all of whom portray Lydiard from their own unique perspective.

Lydiard Park’s second exhibition, Celebrating 75 Years, tells the story of the extensive restoration work which took place after Swindon Corporation purchased the Lydiard estate in 1943.

The Lydiard estate was owned by the St John family from 1420 until 1943, when after a period of financial difficulties, the family put the estate up for sale.

Very little maintenance had been carried out during the final years that the St John family owned the estate. The house was in a poor state of repair and the parkland neglected.

But since coming into public ownership both the House, parkland, Georgian Walled Garden and Lake have seen significant restoration works over the years.

Last year more than £100,000 was spent on Lydiard’s hotel and conference facilities and a further £850,000 has also been set aside to invest in Lydiard House as part of an ongoing maintenance programme.

Councillor Keith Williams, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Lydiard, said: “Lydiard Park holds a special place in the hearts of local people because so many memories are created there.

“It is the perfect place for children, families and those that just want to walk the dog or stroll round the park.

“These exhibitions are a great way of celebrating everything that is good about the park from the pictures of the local artists and photographers, through to the painstaking work that has gone in to bringing the House and parkland back to its former glory.

“I would really urge everyone who has an affinity to Lydiard to pop into the House to view the exhibitions and learn a bit more about how the park has become such a big part of people’s lives.”

Both exhibitions are on display in the historic house. Combined admission for Lydiard House and Walled Garden costs £6.80 for an adult and £3.70 for a child (Under 3s go free). Family tickets are also available.

Lydiard House is open Wednesday to Sunday (and Bank Holiday Mondays), from 11am and 4pm. Last admission is 3.30pm.

To find out more about Lydiard Park please visit www.lydiardpark.org.uk or call 01793 466664.

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