St Mary's Church Lydiard Tregoze

Heritage

From Tudor royal visits to its role in WWII, St Mary’s is steeped in English history.

Image Credit: LynPix, Swindon Photographic Society
Image Credit: Richard Bailey, Swindon Photographic Society
Image Credit: daysey, Swindon Photographic Society

About our Heritage

Step into St. Mary’s Church and you immediately feel its 1000 year history and the influence of the St. John family who owned Lydiard Park for 500 years up until 1943. It’s in the medieval walls, the Jacobean carved pews, the painted glass windows and spectacular family monuments.

The church holds up a mirror to view England’s wider history. Thomas Beckett’s dreadful murder is here, recorded in medieval wall paintings now being conserved. The radical church changes brought about by the Protestant Reformation saw those images as idolatry and they were painted over. The tragedy of the English Civil War is represented by Lydiard’s Golden Cavalier monument and the First World War in its Book of Remembrance.

No wonder visitors from around the world come to see St Mary’s rare treasures and to retrace the footsteps of our ancestors.

St. John family Monuments

In the early 17th Century Sir John St. John undertook far reaching work to remodel the church, constructing a family chapel and a series of monuments to display his family pedigree and prestige. He employed leading artists of the day to create the beautiful east window, the splendid polyptych with its heraldic and genealogical panels and monuments to his sister and notorious brother in law Giles Mompesson. A monument to himself and his two wives barely fits into the chapel! Sir John’s last commission, The Golden Cavalier, shows his beloved son Edward who died at Lydiard from wounds he received fighting for the King at the 2nd Battle of Newbury.

Timeline

1086

Lydiard is recorded in Domesday book

Martyrdom of Thomas Beckett at Canterbury Cathedral (1170)

1200s

First of St Mary’s wall paintings completed

1420

Lydiard estate passed to the St. John family

Protestant Reformation (1517 - 1648)

1500s

Many paintings covered over with limewash

1592

Queen Elizabeth I visits Lydiard Tregoze

1600s

St. John Chapel built and family monuments erected

English Civil War (1642 - 1651)

1743

Lydiard House remodelled in Palladian fashion

1840s

Church reordered, the gallery removed, organ installed & graveyard officially closed

1901

Church underwent major repair and renovation works

World War I (1914 - 1918)

World War II (1939 - 1945)

1943

Swindon Corporation purchase Lydiard House and Park

1944

Lydiard Park used as US Air Force hospital and then POW camp

2018

The St. Mary’s Conservation Project works begin

Virtual Tour

Our virtual tour allows you a glimpse of St Mary’s unique heritage prior to the recent conservation works. Step into the church and view its beautiful architecture and fittings, including its fine East window by Abraham Van Linge and the famous St. John family Polyptych.

Take a Virtual Tour

Friends of Lydiard Park

The Friends of Lydiard Park charity has played a key role in conserving St Mary’s heritage. Dedicated to the conservation and enhancement of Lydiard House and Park, the Wiltshire-based organisation has an active US branch.

For further information and access to detailed research and publications visit our website.