Exquisite church art displayed for Heritage Open Days

By Barrie Hudson - 8 September 2023

CommunityArts and CultureHeritage

St Mary's Lydiard Tregoze is one of the venues for this year's Heritage Open Days.

Visitors can walk in the footsteps of pilgrims and famous Royal visitors.

The famous St John Triptych painting, painted by William Larkin, Royal Court Painter to James I, is among the items on display in what will be its final viewing for the year. 

The church, in Church Lane, Lydiard Tregoze SN5 3PA, is set within historic Lydiard Park on the outskirts of Swindon.

It has been called one of the most important small parish churches in Great Britain, renowned through the centuries for its extraordinary monuments and wall paintings. 

St Mary’s is the site of over 1,100 years of continual Christian worship, physically dating from the early 11th century and 13th century Norman.

It was extended in the 14th to 16th centuries, providing Tudor royal connections, and has an extraordinary collection of nationally significant medieval wall paintings including a rare surviving example of the martyrdom of Thomas Becket and an example of a Renaissance Christ, together with 15th century English stained glass by John Thornton of Coventry. 

Newly-uncovered wall paintings have been the central part of a recently completed £1.15 conservation project. 

The 17th century part of the structure is a rare example of an English Renaissance Church, with an exceptional east window by leading stained glass artist Abraham Van Linge, and many fine 17th century monuments including the exceptionally fine St John monument, the work of the crown mason Nicholas Stone. 

The spectacular painted St John Triptych was commissioned by Sir John St John by the Royal court painter William Larkin and dates to 1615. The church through the St John family in the 15th century has a direct connection with Margaret Beaufort (their half-sister) the most powerful and important woman in England, mother of Henry VII, and can be seen on the exquisite Tudor nave ceiling. 

The newly restored 18th century Reredos is also on display.

Opening times are Saturday 9 September 11am-4pm, Sunday 10 September 2pm-4pm, Friday 15 September 11am-4pm, Saturday 16 September 11am-4pm and Sunday 17 September 2pm-3pm.

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