Community Trust and Council continue talks over future running of Lydiard Park

Community Trust and Council continue talks over future running of Lydiard Park

23 November 2017

 Talks are continuing between Swindon Borough Council and Lydiard Park Heritage Trust over the future running of Lydiard Park.

The Council’s Cabinet agreed in March to endorse Lydiard Park Heritage Trust as its preferred bidder to take over the much-loved country park. Both parties entered into a period of due diligence to verify information provided by the Council earlier in the process in order to agree a Business Transfer Agreement and long-term lease.

Although discussions have gone well over the past few months, further work needs to be undertaken on the condition survey of the building and the future of the conference facilities. The due diligence period has therefore been extended to allow an agreement to be reached that suits both parties.

The community trust scored highest out of five bids received by the Council after the Cabinet agreed last year to invite formal bids to run the park with the aim of reducing the Council’s annual subsidy and ongoing maintenance for the popular attraction. In recent years the park had cost the Council around £460,000 a year to run.

Exploring commercial opportunities for Lydiard Park formed part of the Council’s Leisure and Culture Commissioning Change Programme, which resulted in the successful leasing of the Borough’s leisure and golf facilities. This secured a sustainable future for these important facilities, which are no longer reliant on subsidies from the Council.

Cllr Garry Perkins, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for Lydiard, said: “We have had some really positive discussions with the Trust and I would like to thank them for the passion, enthusiasm and professionalism they have shown since we began this process.

“Lydiard Park is such an important asset for people in Swindon and that is why the Council and the Trust have to be absolutely aligned when it comes to the transfer agreement and the terms of the lease. We have to get this right for both parties so we come up with the best possible agreement to secure Lydiard’s long-term future.”

Trust Chair Mike Bowden added: “Due diligence has been a challenging process for us all and there are still a couple of areas in the business transfer agreement which require further discussion.

“Cllr Perkins, many council officers and our Trustees are working constructively together to find a mutually acceptable way forward to secure Lydiard for generations to come.”

The outcome of the due diligence talks will be presented to the Council’s Cabinet in February.

click here to download this press release as a pdf

Lifting the lid on the history of one of the town’s most fascinating churches

A TALENTED team of heritage conservationists have begun a lengthy process of discovering the hidden history of one of the most important church buildings in the borough.

St Mary’s Church Lydiard Tregoze has seen conservationists from Rutherfoord Conservation Limited begin their detailed examinations of the historic church within the grounds of Lydiard Park following the success of a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) earlier this year.
The team is led by the internationally acclaimed conservator Jane Rutherfoord and includes monuments conservation consultant Deborah Cartly and polychromy conservation consultant Eddie Sinclair, as well as buildings archaeologist Jill Atherton.

Jane and her team are approaching the end of two weeks on site at St Marys undertaking a detailed survey of the wall paintings, monuments and polychromy for the project in order to inform the trusts second round application to the Heritage Lottery Fund which is scheduled for submission in March 2018.

Appeal chairman Paul Gardner said: “We are extremely pleased that we have secured Jane’s expertise again following her successful conservation of the Reredos in 2016.
“Conserving the 18th century Reredos, along with associated building works, was a £40,000 project funded by the congregation, wider public and grants.”

Scaffolding has been put up in the church to allow the conservationists to get up close to the church’s historic ceilings and walls to carry out their investigations.

Jane said: “We are preserving what we find – it is conservation to honour all the additions the church has experienced over the past 900 years.
“The next stage involves all of the work that no-one ever sees us do. Once we are off site we have an enormous amount of research into the documentation that has been collated from various sources over the years.”

The £1 million Heritage Lottery funded project will restore St. Mary’s historic interiors and make it more accessible to the public with access improvements, imaginative interpretation and lively education programmes. The main focus of the delivery phase is the conservation of the extensive medieval wall paintings, which 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.

In conjunction with the project, the church is also planning a whole range of activities which include the involvement of local schools, volunteers, children’s theatre, skills training, imaginative interpretation and a national symposium for professionals in the heritage and conservation sector.

Over the last five years the church has successfully raised funds to restore the buildings structure and make it weather tight and in June 2016 the conservationists celebrated the restoration of the 18th century Reredos. Conserving the Reredos, along with associated building works, was a £40,000 project funded by the congregation, wider public and grants.

Sequel to the ‘Lady of the Tower’ now on sale

Elizabeth St. John’s new historical novel which features the St. John’s of Lydiard Park at the time of the Civil War is out now! Elizabeth is the Friends of Lydiard Park Ambassador in America which also involves her in fundraising for St. Mary’s Church. Here is her personal message:

Dear Friends,

Thanks to your wonderful support and encouragement, I decided to do it again! So excited to announce the launch of By Love Divided, my follow-up novel to The Lady of the Tower.

By Love Divided picks up about six months after The Lady of the Tower, and follows the fortunes of Lucy St.John and her children, Allen and Luce, as England is ripped apart by conflicting beliefs and descends into Civil War. You’ll find some of the same characters (yes, including Barbara and Theo) as well as meeting some new people in their lives. I’ll leave it to you to see who you will come to love and hate.

So, please download, page-read and forward this email to everyone who might enjoy the book. And, if it happens all this week, you’ll help generate great rankings on Amazon!

By Love Divided: $2.99 on Kindle / FREE on Kindle Unlimited On sale October 12 | Print version October 17

And, I’m giving away a fun short story all about Theo and his questionable character:
Counterpoint: Theo, Earl of Suffolk FREE download October 12 &13 | FREE on Kindle Unlimited)

Thank you with all my heart. I hope you enjoy reading the next chapters of Lucy St.John’s journey as much as I enjoyed writing them.


Celebrate Swindon Arts and Culture Event

Celebrate Swindon with a series of free fun events during the weekend of October 14-15.
Enjoy FREE entry to Lydiard House on Sunday October 15 between 11am-4pm when you produce this leaflet.
Join a FREE guided tour of Lydiard House and St Mary’s Church at 2.30pm on Sunday October 15 (don’t forget to bring a copy of this leaflet)
For more information please visit and search Celebrate Swindon or contact the Visitor Information Centre on 01793 466454.
You can also call in at Lydiard House open Wednesday-Sunday 11am – 4pm and speak to staff on the front desk.

Click on the thumbnail picture to view full size and print.

Brook Cottage – County Archaeologist Advises against application until an evaluation has been undertaken

On 8 September 2017, the county archaeologist wrote:

Dear Sarah.

Thank you for consulting me on the above application. This location is archaeologically sensitive, being within 150 m of where a Roman building was revealed during work on the northern car park at Lydiard Park. There is also a medieval settlement at Wick Farm within 100 m of the proposed development site. I advise that an archaeological evaluation is undertaken across the site and reported on prior to the determination of the planning application.

Regards, Melanie
Melanie Pomeroy-Kellinger BA MA MCIfA
County Archaeologist
Wiltshire Council
Tel 01249 705511
Mob 07900047633

Archaeology Advisor to Swindon Borough Council
Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre
Cocklebury Road
SN15 3QN