180-year-old watercolour unveiled at St Mary’s alongside wall painting that inspired it

Story from the 31st March Swindon Advertiser:

180-YEAR-OLD watercolour has been returned to St Mary’s Lydiard Tregoze alongside the medieval wall painting that inspired it.

The painting of Thomas Beckett was unveiled at the church on Maundy Thursday following its conservation for the public to view and compare with the original wall painting of Thomas Becket within the church.

Thomas Becket was martyred in Canterbury Cathedral on December 29, 1170 AD, and became the national saint in England and the focus of pilgrimage to Canterbury. Over the course of around 350 years thousands of pilgrims visited his shrine.

The Friends of Lydiard Park funded the conservation and framing of the Beckett watercolour as part of their long established programme of supporting object conservation at St Mary’s Church and Lydiard House. The watercolour has been in the care of the Brake family, who have chosen to return it to the church within the grounds of Lydiard Park.

Stephen Brake said “The family is delighted that they were able to make this historic donation to St Mary’s. The painting has been protected and survived across several generations of the family many of whom have had a close connection and love for the local parish. We are honoured to continue to follow in our ancestors tradition by supporting St Mary’s Church and Lydiard.”

Alastair Stevenson, chairman of Lydiard Park Friends said: “Thanks to the generosity of the Brake family, this important picture will now become part of the fascinating history to be seen at St. Mary’s. The Friends of Lydiard Park are delighted to have played a part in its return.”

In conjunction with the return of the painting to St Mary’s, town historian Frances Bevan penned an article in the final edition of Swindon Heritage magazine.

Paul Gardner, chairman of St Mary’s Conservation Project said: “I am extremely grateful and delighted at the return to St Mary’s of the restored 180-year-old painting which is a detail of the medieval Thomas Becket wall painting.”The Brake family who have worshipped at St Mary’s for more than 200 years were so impressed by the commitment and enthusiasm of the project to the conservation of the medieval wall paintings they wished to donate the painting to St Marys where it can be viewed and appreciated by the public in perpetuity.”

The Heritage Lottery Funded Conservation Project at St Marys – of which the conservation of Thomas Becket is at the very heart of – has faced the task of raising £267,000 in match funding.But the balance to raise now stands at £54,000 following the receipt of a substantial individual donation and the awards of grants from the Friends of Lydiard Park, Garfield Weston Foundation, Allchurches Trust, St Andrews Conservation, The Leche Trust, Wiltshire Historic Churches Trust, The Alan Evans Memorial Trust and continued public fundraising.

The second round application will be made to the Heritage Lottery Fund in June 2108.

Return of painting to church Unveiling of painting at St Mary’s Lydiard.
left 2 right
Pic – Alastair Stevenson ( Rev) , Frances Bevan, Paul Gardiner ( Chair of St Marys )
Date 29/3/18
Pic By Dave Cox

SRA issue a ‘joint statement for the protection of the essential setting of Lydiard Park’

The Shaw Residents’ Association have issued a ‘joint Statement for the protection of the ‘essential setting’ of Lydiard Park’.

For many years speculative developers have attempted to gain planning permission for housing developments within the parks ‘essential setting’. The most recent attempt by Taylor Wimpey resulted in over 600 letters of objection from members of the public along with objections from community groups and statutory organisations. The outcry was so powerful that Taylor Wimpey withdrew their application just a few weeks before the scheduled target decision date.

In a statement from the SRA they say, we believe it is time, through local plans, tools available within the national planning policy framework, and by creating a conservation management plan, that the representative policies for Lydiard Park are strengthened. And, in so doing make it clear to any would-be developer that their chances of winning at appeal are very slender indeed, no matter how deep their pockets.

For more information, including a copy of the letter sent to the CEO’s and leaders and Wiltshire and Swindon councils, go to the SRA website: www.shawresidents.org.uk

Chartridge Issue reducdancy notices to all staff

Chartridge Issue Redundancy Notices to all staff

10 January 2018

We have learned today that Chartridge have announced their intention to terminate their lease of the Conference Centre by April.

The trustees of the Lydiard Park Heritage Trust are saddened to hear that staff at Lydiard Park Conference Centre have received redundancy notices from their employer, The Chartridge Conference Company Ltd. These are worrying times for the hardworking and loyal members of staff and we feel for them.

All relevant parties have known that the Chartridge Conference Centre business has been on a downward trend for some time. Indeed the extension of the due diligence period, between ourselves and Swindon Borough Council, is in part due to uncertainty regarding the future of the conference centre.

We fear that Lydiard House itself would be at grave risk if the conference centre were to be left unoccupied for even a short period of time. The conference centre should be providing vital income to support the running of the House and Park.  We therefore trust that Swindon Council has a contingency plan in place and that they, as owners of the building, will take steps to ensure that a way is found to keep the conference centre open for business.

St Marys Church Lydiard Tregoze Conservation Project wins Heritage Lottery Fund support for its £1 million pound conservation project

St Marys Church Lydiard Tregoze Conservation Project wins Heritage Lottery Fund support for its £1 million pound conservation project

By Paul Gardner of St Mary’s Church

We are delighted to announce that St. Mary’s Church has been successful in our application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. We have been awarded a grant of £131,700 towards the £186,700 development phase of the project. We have already raised the £55,000 match funding required to complete this development phase.

Completion of the development phase will allow St Mary’s to further refine the delivery phase for which it will apply for a further grant of £615,000 in the spring of 2018.

St Mary’s still needs to raise the balance of £155,000 to complete the funding of this delivery phase, however this  now stands at £75,500 following the award of grants from Garfield Weston Foundation, All Churches Trust, The Leche Trust , Wiltshire Historic Churches Trust, The Alan Evans Memorial Trust, St Andrew’s Conservation Trust  and continued public fund raising.

The scheme 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 we are also planning a whole range of activities which include the participation of local schools, volunteers, children’s theatre, skills training, imaginative interpretation and a national symposium for professionals in the heritage and conservation sector.

Appeal Chairman Paul Gardner said “we have successfully raised the match funding for the first stage of the project and thank Heritage Lottery Fund whole heartily for making this crucial award. We are looking forward to beginning this new and exciting phase in the New Year.”

Throughout the summer and continuing into October Volunteers from Nationwide are giving their full support to the corporate volunteer programme of the conservation project. This has included clearing and preparing a new wild flower bed in the grounds of St Marys, painting the railings & gate to St Marys, and further works in the grounds of St Marys.

Nerys Watts head of HLF South West said “At the heart of Swindon’s Lydiard Park St Marys 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 are delighted to support this first vital step towards and its historic Grade 1 listed home enabling even more people to enjoy the stories they hold.”

Rt. Reverend Dr Lee Rayfield Bishop of Swindon said “We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has given us this support. St Marys is a national treasure and preserving its unique features will benefit both local people and the nations heritage “

We have recently appointed the internationally acclaimed conservator Jane Rutherfoord   and her team to undertake the conservation work to the medieval wall paintings and monuments.

In early 2018 we expect to see on display in St Marys the restored 180 year old painting which is a detail of the medieval Thomas Becket wall painting.

Over the last 5 years the church has successfully raised  funds to restore the buildings structure and make it weather tight and in June 2016 year we 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.  The work was carried out by the internationally acclaimed conservator Jane Rutherfoord.

For further information, images, interviews and private visits please contact Paul Gardner at gp.gardner@btinternet.com or 07831868429