St. Mary’s Church Lydiard Tregoze, which lies on the western edge of Swindon in historic Lydiard Park, has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to conserve its gorgeous interiors. The project aims include conserving the buildings extensive medieval wall paintings, 17th Century monuments like the famous Golden Cavalier, ancient carved woodwork and star spangled ceiling.
The grant of £131,700 towards this £186,700 phase will enable the church to complete its development plans and progress to applying for a full grant of £746,700 in 2017/18.
Project Champion, Rt. Reverend Dr Lee Rayfield, Bishop of Swindon said “we are delighted that Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. St.Mary’s is a national treasure and preserving its unique features will benefit both local people and the nation’s heritage”.
The project aims to rescue the church from deteriorating further and improve public access, re-open the hidden south porch and create a welcoming interpretation and activity area. The church plans a wide range of educational activities and events as well as offering training and volunteer opportunities for local people, families, school children and higher education students. These will include hands on conservation workshops and skills training.
Mike Bowden, Chair of the Friends of Lydiard Park said, ““The Friends of Lydiard Park have been supporting the St. Mary’s project for several years and have pledged £100,000 towards its completion. It is tremendous news that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given it the green light. This is a wonderful Christmas present for Lydiard and everyone who has worked so hard to help make it happen”.
St. Mary’s stands behind the gracious mansion of Lydiard House and is famous for the richness of its monuments to the St. John family who lived at Lydiard for over 500 years. It currently attracts over 8,000 visitors a year from both this country and abroad and is well used by local schools researching heritage on their doorstep and visitors to the adjacent house and park. Recently Swindon College students honed their drawing skills in the building as part of the national Big Draw event.
Project Manager Hilary Gardner: “It is wonderful news and we are immensely grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund and very excited about taking our plans forward, especially working with the many organisations from across the town – The Friends of Lydiard Park, schools, colleges, NADFAS groups, Swindon Festival of Literature, Prime Theatre and many more – that have enthusiastically supported the project and pledged their support and involvement”.
Paul Gardner, Chairman of the Fund Raising Campaign: “We have successfully raised the match funded of £55,000 needed for this stage of the project and thank the Heritage Lottery Fund whole heartedly for making this crucial award. We are looking forward to beginning this new and exciting phase early in the New Year”.
Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West: “At the heart of Swindon’s Lydiard Park, St Mary’s is an important part of the town’s history and home to a unique and nationally significant collection of medieval wall paintings. Thanks to National Lottery players we’re delighted to support this vital first step towards securing the future of the collection and its historic Grade I Listed home and enabling even more people to enjoy the stories they hold”.