History

Introduction

The one time home of the rich and powerful St. John family, Lydiard Park is a Grade II protected landscape under the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England; whilst the House and St Mary’s Church are both Grade I listed buildings.

Lydiard Park is included on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

  • Date and rarity: it is a good example of a mid 18th Century park where the layout clearly reflects its original design, and which contains archaeological evidence of its earlier, 17th Century formal layout
  • Representative example: it is a representative example of a mid 18th century park associated with an important country house
  • Group value: the park forms a strong group with its associated heritage assets, including Lydiard House (listed at Grade I), the Church of St Mary (listed at Grade I) and the listed garden structures situated within it

Early History

Mentioned in the Domesday Book (1086), Lydiard Park is a former Manor of Alfred of Marlborough which was was acquired by the Tregoze family in c.1198. In 1270 Henry III gave Robert Tregoze a royal licence to create a deer park in nearby woodland. From 1300 until 1348 Lydiard was owned by the Grandison family, and subsequently by the Beauchamps. In 1420 the estate came to the St John family through marriage (whose main seat was at Battersea, London), and they were to hold it until the Second World War. The court met at Lydiard in 1592 during Elizabeth I’s royal progress, and John St John was knighted. In 1583 it was recorded there was a park at Lydiard Tregoze owned by Nicholas St John, and much correspondence exists from 1659-64 from Johanna St John, wife of the third baronet, who was a keen amateur gardener.

Restoration and Essential Setting

the essential setting – click to expand

The Park benefited from significant investment in 2005 from the Heritage Lottery Fund through their Public Park’s initiative. Along with investments from local business partners, trusts and foundations, the park’s landscape was restored to its former glory. At the heart of the park is Lydiard House – a striking Grade I listed Palladian house that for 500 years was home to the St John family. The ground floor state apartments of Lydiard House have been beautifully restored and are open to visitors to view the ornate plasterwork and original family furnishings displayed alongside portraits and photographs of the St John family.

Lydiard Park has two boundaries, the ‘Historic England Registered Boundary’ and a larger area called the ‘Essential Setting and outlying features to the designated landscape’.

The Essential Setting was identified and agreed by Swindon borough Council in June 2002 as part of the Lydiard Park Restoration and Development plan. This formed SBC’s bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for £3.1m to restore the Park. It is designed to identify the minimum area required to protect the registered landscape by maintaining the rural context of the Park.

In Conclusion

We recognise the importance of the natural environment and heritage at Lydiard Park as a unique selling point and driver for future economic sustainability, and we are therefoe committed to strike a balance between recreation and conservation. This means we will only consider developments that do not adversely impact or compromise the Park and House, its heritage and diverse ecology. Lydiard Park is a valued community asset and is often the location for socially responsible activities involving the citizens of Swindon. This includes established events on the national calendar such as the Lydiard Field of Remembrance, the Race for Life and the Park Run, alongside a host of smaller charitable and community activities of local importance.

More information can be found on the Historic England website – click here