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Heritage Open Days

4th September 2021
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In conjunction with Swindon Heritage Open Days 2021

Set within historic Lydiard Park on the outskirts of Swindon, St Mary’s Church has been called one of the most important small parish churches in Great Britain, renowned though the centuries for its extraordinary monuments & wall paintings.
St Mary’s is the site of over 1100 years continual Christian worship, physically dating from the 11th/13th century Norman, extended in 14th-16th century (Tudor Royal connections), described as one of the finest small churches in England.

It has an extraordinary collection of nationally-significant medieval wall paintings including a rare surviving example of the martyrdom of Thomas A Becket, and a very rare example of Christ the Crown of Thorns, 15th century English stained glass by John Thornton of Coventry. Newly discovered 15th century niche & 13th century wall painting. The wall paintings have been the central part of a recently completed £1.1 million NLHF-funded Conservation Project.

The 17th century part is a rare example of an English Renaissance Church, with an exceptional East window by the 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 commissioned by Sir John St John from the Royal court painter William Larkin which dates from 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 will also be on display.  The bell tower may be open on the weekend.

Event Times

Friday 10 September:           12.00 noon – 4.00 pm
Saturday 11 September:      12.00 noon – 4.00 pm
Sunday 12 September:         1.00 pm – 4.00 pm

(Lydiard Park Archive Project activities available)

Friday 17 September:           12.00 noon – 4.00 pm
Saturday 18 September:      12.00 noon – 2.00 pm & 4.00 pm – 5.00 pm

(Lydiard Park Archive Project activities available

Sunday 19 September:         1.00 pm – 4.00 pm

(Lydiard Park Archive Project activities available)

Booking Details                       No booking required

COVID-19 Considerations
This event will run in line with local & national government guidelines at the time of the festival. Covid 19 industry standard Good to Go accreditation 2021

Additional Information
St Marys National Lottery Heritage Fund major grant award in respect of £1.1 million conservation project ran 2017- 2020 to bring back the medieval wall paintings to their full glory & address the building’s historic interior. In 2013 the church completed essential repair works to the roof & windows, and work to the 16th century wall painting. We are immensely grateful to English Heritage and other generous donors who funded this work. In 2016 restoration & conservation of the 18th century Reredos was undertaken. 2021 Stained glass window & Artist exhibition.

Contact for the day: Paul Gardner 07831868429